Reconcentration and the camp system: The legacy of the Philippine-American war

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During the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), the U.S. Army issued a series of '.reconcentration' orders designed to strangle support for guerrilla forces resistant to the imposition of U.S. colonial rule. The U.S. Army preferred to call the places in which it confined villagers and rural populations '.zones of protection', rather than camps. The zones had clearly demarcated boundaries and the movement of the inhabitants who lived within them was strictly controlled. Despite the contemporary controversy over these tactics, the American reconcentration policy in the Philippines is a little-studied aspect of that war. This chapter offers an analysis of reconcentration policy as it was practised in the Philippines. It also suggests that reconcentration extended beyond the formal period of the war and was incorporated into the administration of the islands. Some regions continued to be unsettled and the Philippines Commission passed an Act in 1903 to authorise provincial governors to reconcentrate particular populations. Rather than being a temporary measure used during a period of martial law, reconcentration was thereafter built into the governance structure of the Philippines.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDetention Camps in Asia
Subtitle of host publicationThe Conditions of Confinement in Modern Asian History
EditorsRobert Cribb, Christina Twomey, Sandra Wilson
Place of PublicationLeiden The Netherlands
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789004512573
ISBN (Print)9789004471726
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameSocial Sciences in Asia
ISSN (Print)1567-2794


  • anti-imperialism
  • concentration camps
  • counterinsurgency
  • detention camps
  • Philippine-American War
  • Reconcentration orders
  • the Philippines

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