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Analysis of "Showing the Light to the Filipinos"

This short activity helps students analyze a political cartoon about U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. To complete the activity, the teacher will need either a map or a globe to show students the relative distance between the United States and Philippines.

Objectives

  • Students will be able to identify different parts of a political cartoon (date, title, people, symbols, labels).

  • Students will be able to translate a pro-imperialist political cartoon into a written/verbal argument.

 

Instructions

Note to teacher: This activity is designed to gauge students’ abilities and challenges analyzing political cartoons. It would work best as part of a larger unit on U.S. imperialism, particularly the effects of the Spanish-American War in 1898. 

Step 1: Students will need to be familiar with the following key points prior to analyzing the cartoon: 

  • The Philippines were a territory of the United States from 1898 to 1946.

  • The U.S. gained the Philippines as a territory following American victory over Spain in the Spanish-American War. 

It is also helpful to show students where the Philippines are located on a map, then showing the relative distance between the United States and Philippines. 

Step 2: Pass out the cartoon. Read aloud or ask for a student volunteer to read the title and the description (in italics) of the cartoon. The teacher may also want to ask students to identify the source and date of the cartoon. Make sure to explain any unfamiliar words or phrases in the description or cartoon. 

Step 3: Pass out the “Questions for Analysis” and go over the directions. Have students work individually to complete it.

Historical Context

The United States' long and bloody war in the Philippines provoked a flurry of protest at home, in newspapers and political cartoons, from those that said U.S. expansion violated American principles such as self-determination. Ardent defenders of imperialism, however, regarded Filipinos as inferior, saw opportunity to expand markets for U.S. goods abroad, and framed their enterprise as a force for good, civilizing "backwards" people around the world. To understand the period and the arguments for and against imperialism, it is important to be able to decode political cartoons.

Source | American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, 2010.
Creator | American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning
Rights | Copyright American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Item Type | Teaching Activity
Cite This document | American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, “Analysis of "Showing the Light to the Filipinos",” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed May 25, 2018, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1667.

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