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Scientific Patriotism: Medical Science and National Self-Fashioning in Southeast Asia

  • Warwick Anderson (a1) and Hans Pols (a2)

Physicians and scientists dominated the first generation of nationalists in at least three East Asian colonies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the Philippines under the Spanish and United States' regimes, the Dutch East Indies, and the Japanese territory of Taiwan. There is substantial evidence that, in each place, decolonization was yoked to scientific progress—not only in a practical sense, but symbolically too. The first generation to receive training in biological science and to become socialized as professionals used this education to imagine itself as eminently modern, progressive, and cosmopolitan. Their training gave them special authority in deploying organic metaphors of society and state, and made them deft in finding allegories of the human body and the body politic. These scientists and physicians saw themselves as representing universal laws, advancing natural knowledge, and engaging as equals with colleagues in Europe, Japan, and North America. Science gave them a new platform for communication. In the British Empire, for example in India and Malaya, medical science also proved influential, though it seems lawyers cognizant of precedent and tradition more often dominated decolonization movements. This essay will examine how scientific training shaped anti-colonialism and nationalism in the Philippines and the East Indies, concluding with a brief comparison of the situation in Taiwan.

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1 Shils Edward A., “The Intellectual in the Political Development of New States,” World Politics 12 (1960): 329–68; Benda Harry J., “Non-Western Intelligentsias as Political Elites,” in Kautsky J. H., ed., Political Change in Under-Developed Countries: Nationalism and Communism (New York: Wiley, 1963), 235–52; and Legge J. D., Intellectuals and Nationalism in Indonesia: A Study of the Following Recruited by Sutan Sjahrir in Occupied Jakarta (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2010 [1988]).

2 Gellner Ernest, Nationalism (London: Phoenix, 1998), 74. See also his Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983). In the early twentieth century, Max Weber observed intellectuals “are to a specific degree predestined to propagate the ‘national idea,’ just as those who wield power in the polity provoke the idea of the state.” From “Structures of Power: The Nation,” in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, Gerth Hans H. and Mills C. Wright, eds. and trans. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1958), 171–79, 176.

3 Anderson Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991, rev. ed.), 118, 119 (his emphasis), 126. See also his Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination (London: Verso, 2005). Prasenjit Duara notes, “Anti-imperialist nationalism emerged historically from the urban, coastal sector where modern, capitalist forms of knowledge, technology, capital and organization had spread more widely.” Duara Prasenjit, “Introduction: The Decolonization of Asia and Africa in the Twentieth Century,” in Duara P., ed., Decolonization: Perspectives from Now and Then (London: Routledge, 2004), 4.

4 For a criticism of the claim that nationalist elites may simply have chosen modular forms of nationalism from Europe, see Chatterjee Partha, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

5 Gellner, Nationalism, 74. On the importance of evolutionary discourses in nationalism, see Duara Prasenjit, Rescuing History from the Nation: Questioning Narratives of Modern China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995). On cognate psychological ideas and nationalism, see Sluga Glenda, The Nation, Psychology and International Politics, 1870–1919 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

6 Cheah Pheng, Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 6, 2.

7 Toer Pramoedya Ananta, Footsteps [Langkah Jejak], Quartet Buru, vol. 3, Max Lane, trans. (New York: Penguin, 1990 [1985]), 128.

8 Prakash Gyan, Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 3, 6. Jawaharlal Nehru's plea to lessen religiosity and turn to science is a salient example—see his The Discovery of India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985 [1946]), ch. 10. See also Dasgupta Subrata, Jagadis Chandra Bose and the Indian Response to Western Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). The historical literature on the relations of science, medicine, and the colonial state in India and elsewhere is extensive, though a little tangential to our argument; for a review, see Warwick Anderson, “Postcolonial Histories of Medicine,” in John Harley Warner and Huisman Frank, eds., Medical History: The Stories and Their Meanings (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 285307.

9 Warwick Anderson explains how science in the Philippines also functioned as both index and generator of civic responsibility” (“Science in the Philippines,” Philippine Studies 55 [2007]: 285316, 309). A recent issue of Osiris explores this conjunction, though referring to it ambiguously as a “close relationship” or “affiliation”: see Harrison Carol E. and Johnson Ann, “Introduction: Science and National Identity,” Osiris 24 (2009): 114, 2, 4. The diversity of contributions to this issue may account for the editors' explanatory vagueness. The more relevant essays—though both focus on the material contributions of science and technology to nation building—are Chakrabarty Pratik, “‘Signs of the Times’: Medicine and Nationhood in British India,” Osiris 24 (2009): 188211; and Moon Suzanne, “Justice, Geography, and Steel: Technology and National Identity in Indonesian Industrialization,” Osiris 24 (2009): 253–77. Prasenjit Duara, in Rescuing History, has connected “scientism” to the nationalism of the Chinese intelligentsia in the early twentieth century. The scientific shaping of national self-consciousness is not unrelated to medicalized postcolonial critique. For examples of the latter, see Fanon Frantz, Black Skin, White Masks, Markmann Charles Lam, trans. (New York: Grove Press, 1967); and Ahmad Jalal Al-i, Occidentosis: A Plague from the West, Campbell R., trans. (Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1984).

10 This challenges the conventional sociological claim that professions tend to withdraw from the public sphere. See Weber Max, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, Roth Guenther and Wittich Claus, eds., Fischoff Ephraim et al., trans. (New York: Bedminster Press, 1968); and Habermas Jürgen, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, Burger Thomas and Lawrence Frederick, trans. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989 [1962]).

11 Clearly we are more interested here in sociological comparison—in trying to discern common patterns in different settings—than in genealogical inquiries. For the justification of this analytic framework, see Anderson Warwick, “Racial Hygiene and the Making of Citizens in the Philippines and Australia,” in Stoler Ann L., ed., Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 94115.

12 On the “late-colonial,” see Darwin John, “What Was the Late-Colonial State?” Itinerario 23 (1999): 7382.

13 Rizal José, Noli Me Tangere, Cruz Jovita Ventura, trans. (Manila: Nalandangan, 1990 [1886]), 318. See also Anderson Benedict, The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World (London: Verso, 1998); Ileto Reynaldo C., “Outlines of a Non-Linear Emplotment of Philippines History,” in Lowe Lisa and Lloyd David, eds., The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), 98131; Rafael Vicente L., White Love and other Events in Filipino History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000); and Nery John, Revolutionary Spirit: José Rizal in Southeast Asia (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2011).

14 Rizal José, El Filibusterismo, Cruz Jovita Ventura, trans. (Manila: ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information, 1991 [1891]), 141.

15 Ibid.

16 Schumacher John N., “Rizal and Blumentritt,” Philippine Studies 2 (1954): 85101. Rizal regarded Germany as his “scientific homeland” and in the Philippines he was known as a “German doctor”: see Hau Caroline, Necessary Fictions: Philippine Literature and the Nation, 1946–1980 (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2000), 5861.

17 Rudolf Virchow quoted in Sigerist Henry E., Medicine and Human Welfare (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1941), 93. See also Rosen George, From Medical Police to Social Medicine: Essays on the History of Healthcare (New York: Science History Publications, 1974); and Porter Dorothy and Porter Roy, “What Was Social Medicine? An Historiographical Essay,” Journal of Historical Sociology 1 (1988): 90106.

18 On Rizal's “pathological vision,” see Reyes Raquel A. G., Love, Passion and Patriotism: Sexuality and the Philippine Propaganda Movement, 1882–1892 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008), ch. 5. According to Benedict Anderson, Rizal was “a novelist and a moralist, not a political thinker” (Under Three Flags, 108). But might politics have inhered in his social medicine?

19 Rizal José, Noli Me Tangere, Lacsin-Locsin Ma. Soledad, trans. (Honolulu: University of Hawaìi Press, 1997), 325.

20 Virchow Rudolf, “Don José Rizal,” Verhandlungen der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte (1897).

21 Ponce figures in Benedict Anderson's Under Three Flags. He was apparently in contact with other medical nationalists including Sun Yat-Sen and Ramón Betances.

22 Schumacher John N., The Propaganda Movement, 1880–1895 (Manila: Solidaridad, 1973); Philippine Higher Education and the Origins of Nationalism,” Philippine Studies 23 (1975): 5365; and The Making of a Nation: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Filipino Nationalism (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1991).

23 Adas Michael, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989); and “Contested Hegemony: The Great War and the Afro-Asian Assault on the Civilizing Mission Ideology,” in Duara Prasenjit, ed., Decolonization: Perspectives from Now and Then (London: Routledge, 2004), 78100.

24 Anderson Warwick, Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).

25 Ibid., esp. ch. 7.

26 Paredes Ruby R., “The Ilustrado Legacy: The Pardo de Taveras of Manila,” in McCoy Alfred W., ed., An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994); Gaerlan Barbara S., “The Pursuit of Modernity: Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera and the Educational Legacy of the Philippine Revolution,” Amerasia Journal 24 (1998): 87108; and Mojares Resil, Brains of the Nation: Pedro Paterno, T. H. Pardo de Tavera, Isobelo de los Reyes and the Production of Modern Knowledge (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2006).

27 Tavera T. H. Pardo de, “Filipino Views of American Rule,” North American Review 174 (Jan. 1902): 7384, 74

28 Tavera T. H. Pardo de, El Legado del ignorantismo (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1921), 33, 36, 4, 41. This is the text of an address to a teachers' assembly at Baguio.

29 T. H. Pardo de Tavera, “The Conservation of the National Type,” Eleventh Annual Commencement Address, University of the Philippines, 4 Apr. 1921, 19–20, 13, 21, Pardo de Tavera collection, B2 E16, Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila.

30 Benedict Anderson (Imagined Communities) and others have claimed narratives of national belonging produced this transformation—we would argue they did not do so alone. See also Anderson W., Colonial Pathologies, 191–92; and Julian Go, “Colonial Reception and Cultural Reproduction: Filipino Elites and United States Tutelary Rule,” Journal of Historical Sociology 12 (1999): 337–68. On “biopolitics” and “governmentality,” see Foucault Michel, “Governmentality,” in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, Burchell Graham et al., eds. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 87104, Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974–75, Graham Burchell, trans. (New York: Picador, 203); and “Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975–76, Macey David, trans. (New York: Picador, 2003). Unfortunately, Foucault showed little interest in nationalism.

31 Fuentes Juan, “The First Filipino PGH Director,” in Ona Enrique T., ed., The Hospital: The First 75 Years of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital Medical Center (1910–1985) (Manila: n.p., 1986), xxiv–vi; and Anderson Warwick, “Modern Sentinel and Colonial Microcosm: Science, Discipline and Distress at the Philippine General Hospital,” Philippine Studies 57 (2009): 348.

32 Fernando Calderón in 1908, quoted in Snodgrass John E., Source History and Description of the Philippine General Hospital (1900–1911) (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1912), 25.

33 W. Anderson, Colonial Pathologies, ch. 7.

34 Sison Agerico B. M., “Educating Our Educators,” Bulletin of the San Juan de Dios Hospital 1 (1927): 123–24, 123, 124.

35 Fajardo Jacobo, “Commencement Address,” Bulletin of the San Juan de Dios Hospital 5 (1931): 173–75, 174, 175.

36 Osias Camilo, “Utilizing Science for Human Needs,” in Galang Zoilo M., ed., Encyclopedia of the Philippines: The Library of Philippine Literature, Art and Science (Manila: P. Vera and Sons, 1936), vol. 7, 624–27, 624–25, 625–26.

37 Uichanco Leopoldo B., “The Philippines in the World of Science,” in Galang Zoilo M., ed., Encyclopedia of the Philippines, vol. 7, 178–93, 190.

38 Rodriguez Eulogio B., “Brief Observations on Science in the Philippines in the Pre-American Era,” in Galang Zoilo M., ed., Encyclopedia of the Philippines, vol. 7, 52101, 91, 92.

39 Arguelles Angel S., “Progress of Research in the Philippines,” in Galang Zoilo M., ed., Encyclopedia of the Philippines, vol. 7, 1730, 29, 28.

40 Article XIII, section 4. This may actually be a unique commitment to science.

41 Pramoedya, Footsteps, 15–16.

42 Toer Pramoedya Ananta, This Earth of Mankind [Bumi Manusia], Buru Quartet, vol. 1, Lane Max, trans. (New York: Penguin, 1996), 16, 16, 19. Pramoedya undertook extensive historical research for his novels and even wrote the biography of the medical student on whom Minke was modeled: De Pionier: Biografie van Tirto Adhisoerjo (Amsterdam: Manus Amici-Novib, 1988).

43Veralina Sizaru,” “Nood Mijn,” in Soeharsa Dj. Siregar, and Schreuder C., eds., NIAS Almanak: Lustrumnummer 1933–1934 (Surabaya: NIAS, 1934), 209.

44 Moeis Abdoel, Never the Twain (Jakarta: Lontar, 2010 [1928]).

45 Keith Foulcher called Muis a Minke-like character, in Biography, History and the Indonesian Novel: Reading Salah Asuhan,” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (BKI) 161 (2005): 247–68.

46 Waart A. de, ed., Ontwikkeling van het Geneeskundig Onderwijs te Weltevreden, 1851–1926 (Uitgave ter Herdenking van het 75-Jarig Bestaan van de School tot Opleiding van Indische Artsen [Stovia]) (Weltevreden: Kolff, 1926); SM M. A. Hanafia, Djohan Bahder, and Surono , 125 Tahun Pendidikan Dokter di Indonesia 1851–1976 (Jakarta: FKUI, 1976); Sujudi Ahmad, Sulaiman H. Ali, and Ismael H. Sofyan, eds., 150 Tahun Pendidikan Dokter di Indonesia: Menuju Persaingan Global (Jakarta: ILUNI FKUI, 2002). For the early development of the Batavia medical school, see Hesselink Liesbeth, Genezers op de Koloniale Markt: Inheemse Dokters en Vroedvrouwen in Nederlandsch Oost-Indië, 1850–1915 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009).

47 Widohariadi and Permono Bambang, Peringatan 70 Tahun Pendidikan Dokter di Surabaya, 15 Sept. 1983 (Surabaya: Gideon, 1983); and, Peringatan 90 Tahun Pendidikan Dokter di Surabaya (Surabaya: Fakultas Kedoktoran Universitas Airlingga, 2003).

48 Pramoedya, De Pionier. Tirto spent four years at medical school in the 1890s, dropping out before the last year.

49 The literature on the Indonesian nationalist movement is copious. An overview can be found in Elson R. E., The Idea of Indonesia: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

50 Poeze Harry, “Early Indonesian Emancipation; Abdul Rivai, Van Heutsz and the Bintang Hindia,” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (BKI) 145 (1989): 87106.

51 Mangunkusomo Cipto, “Rede, Algemene Beschouwingen,” in Handelingen van Den Volksraad, Tweede Gewone Zitting (Batavia: Volksraad van Nederlandsch-Indië, 1918), 159–70, 168.

52 [Deggeler O. and van Lonkhuyzen J. J.], “Het Indisch Ontwerp 1913,” Bond van Geneesheeren in N.-I. 5253 (1912): 1–29, 26, 27.

53 Dekker E.F.E. Douwes, “De Indische Partij: Rapport der Propaganda-Deputatie,” Het Tijdschrift 2, 4 (1912): 97146, esp. 100, 114–21, 133–36.

54 Poeze Harry A., In het Land van de Overheerser I. Indonesiërs in Nederland, 1600–1950 (Dordrecht: FORIS, 1986).

55 Abeyasekere Susan, One Hand Clapping: Indonesian Nationalists and the Dutch, 1939–1942 (Melbourne: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1976).

56 Rasjid Abdul, “Beschouwingen over de Positie van den Ind.-Arts,” in Het Eerste Congres van de Vereeniging van Indonesische Geneeskundigen Gehouden Op 24, 25, en 26 December 1938 te Semarang (Batavia: Kenanga, 1938); Rasyid Abdul quoted in Medisch Tribune 27 (Mar. 1939): 10.

57 See, for example, Mochtar R., “Intensief Hygienewerk en Medisch-Hygienische Propaganda,” Medisch Tribune 27 (1939): 1621. Mochtar was employed by the Rockefeller Foundation during the 1930s. After independence, he became an official in the Department of Health. For activities of the Rockefeller Foundation in the Indies, see Hydrick J. L., Intensive Rural Hygiene Work and Public Health Education of the Public Health Service of Netherlands India (Batavia: n.p., 1937).

58 Anon., Mededeelingen van het hoofdbestuur,” Orgaan der Vereenging van Indische Geneeskundigen 16 (Jan. 1927): 17.

59 Proehoeman S. and Mochtar A., “Letter from the Association of Indonesian Physicians, Netherlands Section, to the Executive,” Orgaan der Vereenging van Indische Geneeskundigen 16 (Feb. 1928): 47.

60 Pols Hans, “The Nature of the Native Mind: Contested Views of Dutch Colonial Psychiatrists in the Former Dutch East Indies,” in Mahone Sloan and Vaughan Megan, eds., Psychiatry and Empire (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 172–96.

61 Anon., De Bond van Geneesheeren in Ned. Ind.,” Medisch Tribune 27 (Mar. 1939): 4.

62 Anon., Verslag over het 1e Congres van de Vereeniging van Indonesische Geneeskundigen, 1938,” Medisch Tribune 27 (Mar. 1939): 16.

63 See the listing of physicians in Gunseikanbu, Orang Yang Terkemuka di Jawa (Yogyakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press, 1986 [1944]), 299382.

64 Anderson Benedict R., Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 1944–1946 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972); Engelen O. E., Loebis Aboe Bakar, Ciptoprawiro Abdullah, Joedodibroto Oetarjo Soejono, and Siregar Idris, Lahirnya Satu Bangsa dan Negara (Jakarta: Penerbit Universitas Indonesia, 1997).

65 Lo Ming-Cheng M., Doctors within Borders: Profession, Ethnicity, and Modernity in Colonial Taiwan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 5, 6, 7.

66 Lo Ming-Cheng M., “Between Ethnicity and Modernity: Taiwanese Medical Students and Doctors under Japan's Kominka Campaign, 1937–1945,” Positions 10 (2002): 285332. Other obvious examples include Sun Yat-Sen, MD, in China; Ramón Betances, MD, in the Caribbean, and even Ernesto “Che” Guevara, MD, in Latin America.

67 It may prove worthwhile to compare the role of different forms of science and medicine in the French revolution and in revolutions in the Americas in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

68 Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation [1918],” in From Max Weber, 129–56. Of course, Weber was also arguing for the separation of science from politics, believing responsible scientists are not equipped to sell a Weltanschauung.

69 Prasenjit Duara points out that nationalism “meant the imposition of a modern Westernized figure of a rational, hygienic, and scientific subject in place of much that was meaningful to the people.” But he does not connect explicitly the biopolitical formations of the East Asian modern to biomedicine. Duara Prasenjit, Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern (Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), 19. It should be obvious now that our essay tries to negotiate a compromise between Weber and Foucault in relation to science and the nation-state.

70 For a comparison of Southeast Asian nation-states, see Reid Anthony, Imperial Alchemy: Nationalism and Political Identity in Southeast Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

71 Adams Vincanne concludes Doctors for Democracy: Health Professionals in the Nepal Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) with a discussion of the neocolonial aspects of nationalist “science fetishism.”

72 More generally, see Warwick Anderson and Vincanne Adams, “Pramoedya's Chickens: Postcolonial Studies of Technoscience,” in Hackett Edward J., Amsterdamska Olga, Lynch Michael, and Wajcman Judy, eds., The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, 3d ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007), 181204; and Anderson Warwick, “From Subjugated Knowledge to Conjugated Subjects: Science and Globalisation, or Postcolonial Studies of Science?” Postcolonial Studies 12 (2009): 389400.

Acknowledgments: Earlier versions of this essay benefited from comments and criticisms from Prasenjit Duara, Carol Hau, Al McCoy, Vince Rafael, and Glenda Sluga. We are particularly grateful to Al McCoy, Francisco Scarano, and Josep Fradera for encouraging us to write this essay for their conference “Endless Empires” held in Barcelona in 2009. Unless otherwise stated, Warwick Anderson is responsible for translations from Spanish, and Hans Pols for translations from Dutch.

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