Dissertation Proposal Defense of Patrick Jaojoco

Princeton University School of Architecture

announces the Dissertation Proposal Defense of

Patrick Jaojoco


The Philippine Experiment: Civilizational Techniques

and the Enduring Colonial State over the Long Twentieth Century



Jay Cephas (Princeton University, Co-Advisor)
Spyros Papapetros (Princeton University, Co-Advisor)
Sylvia Lavin (Princeton University)
Felicity Scott (Columbia University)
Neferti X. M. Tadiar (Barnard College, Columbia University)


Thursday, March 21, 2024 at 1pm, in S-118



Throughout the twentieth century, “the Philippine Experiment” has been used by American and Filipino government offcials, technocratic experts, and legal scholars to describe the development of a vast archipelago in the Southeast Asian Pacific. But what is the experiment, what are its premises, and what are its results? As this dissertation will demonstrate, the material developments of colonial prison labor and forestry practices; post-independence university education and agronomy; and neoliberal-era communications networks and socioenvironmental control constitute a series of what I term “civilizational techniques”: techniques of subjugation and control that bring the “savage” into relationship with global “civilization.” Over three different governmental regimes between 1898 and 1986, these infrastructures have ensured the continuation of an experimental state apparatus uniting imperialist, feudalist, and bureaucrat-capitalist interests over the course of twentieth-century Philippine modernity and beyond.


While the experiment’s technical foundations were laid in the late Spanish period, particular methods of centralization and expansion were unique to the American twentieth century, in which geographical and technical development—coupled with contradictory forms of sovereignty—became the dominant mechanisms of empire. The material development of the archipelago is thus telling of both the conditions of postcoloniality embedded in the long-term Philippine colonial project, and the conditions propelling protracted anticolonial movements of Filipino nationalism. By centering social and environmental infrastructures as my objects of study, this dissertation presents a multiscalar, multitemporal analysis of colonial apparatuses of control, ultimately asking: what are the enduring civilizational techniques of infrastructural modernity, and what remains outside of their political bounds?