Incompetent Masters, Indolent Natives, Savage Origins: The Philippines and Its Inhabitants in the Travel Accounts of Carl Semper (1869) and Fedor Jagor (1873)

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This chapter discusses the travelogues of two German anthropologists exploring the Philippines around 1870: Carl Semper (1868) and Fedor Jagor (1873). It analyses how these texts describe and categorise the various groups living in the Philippines, and how they value the impact of colonialism. Presenting several aspects of the country for a general public, these texts stand at the crossroads of travel writing and scholarly literature.

These accounts provided a basis for the thriving German scholarly discourse on Philippine peoples, cultures and languages in the late nineteenth century. The archipelago received particular German attention, in a context of the waning of Spanish colonial power, which drew the Philippines into the focus of German imperialist ambitions. The analysis will view the travelogues as part of a scholarly discourse which carried Eurocentric colonial projections, but also fed Philippine nationalism.