A UC Berkeley DeCal course aiming to decolonize campus’s relationship with the Philippines is allowing students to curate an exhibit at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
The course, which is titled “UC Berkeley, The Philippines and Filipinx America,” covers UC Berkeley’s relationship with the Philippines in terms of exploitation, resistance and preservation, according to Cameron Yetta, a student currently taking the class. In the past, campus administrators and faculty such as David Prescott Barrows assisted in the colonization of the Philippines and its education system.
“So far, I have learned the extent to which larger institutions – such as UC Berkeley – have profited from the oppression of the Philippines and how the history of colonization still presents problems today,” Yetta said in an email.
DeCal participants will curate an exhibit at the Hearst Museum using images of more than 5,000 museum artifacts from the Philippines for their final project, according to Berkeley News. Yetta is currently working with co-author and fellow student Jeremy Ramirez to create two displays.
One display will contain pieces portraying negative stereotypes of Indigenous Filipinx culture, while the second display will use artifacts to celebrate cultural values and Indigenous technology and craftsmanship.
“This project represents a juxtaposition of narratives; colonial and decolonial,” Yetta said in the email. “The process started as a class collaborative of brainstorming ideas, then ideas were refined by a smaller group of students, and finally will be executed by myself as a final project for the course.”
The class is taught by Alex Mabanta, a Berkeley Law doctoral student in jurisprudence and social policy and sponsored by campus art history professor and Hearst Museum Faculty director Lauren Kroiz. Mabanta had previously co-sponsored an ASUC resolution and organized a protest against an Aug. 2021 Doe Library exhibit highlighting Barrows and other campus affiliates known for white supremacist views in a display about the Philippines. Campus administrators later issued a formal apology for the display.
The new exhibit created by students in Mabanta’s DeCal will open later this November and remain open until March 2023, the Berkeley News article added.
“This course has taught me much about my heritage and has given me the tools I need to conduct investigative work and think more critically about history,” Yetta said in the email. “I highly recommend the course to the Filipinx community and anyone who is interested in culture, history, colonization, or research methods.”