• infant mortality;
  • imperial medicine;
  • the Philippines;
  • child rearing;
  • U.S. imperialism

Feminist scholars have begun to consider the ways indigenous practices of child rearing were and are challenged in (post)colonial discourse and practice, and how these practices have become a terrain on which definitions of nation, state, and economy are contested. In this article, I adopt a historical anthropological approach to consider how Filipino child-rearing strategies were described and stigmatized in educational, public health, and public welfare discourses in the U.S.-occupied Philippines in the early 20th century. I demonstrate how public health practices and discourses that were generated as part of a “benevolent” campaign against high rates of infant mortality were strategically used as a weapon against Filipino arguments for independence. I also consider how discourses constructing Filipino caregivers as overly indulgent were linked to metropolitan concerns about production of the “new industrial man” and were used to develop a racialized critique of the cultural practices of Filipinos.