Department of History, Vanderbilt University
"Sex, Disease and Military Empire: The Case of the Philippine-American War"
Across the American Century, commercialized sex burgeoned with the arrival of US military forces, and commanders and public health officials worried about its implications for troop readiness and fighting power, far less its impacts on local sex workers and their communities. Through the historical reconstruction of the US military's approaches to venereal disease control, and military and domestic US political debates about sex and disease at the edges of empire, one can illuminate the workings of race, gender, sexuality, and the costs of militarized world power. This talk will present some of the broad contours of an emerging literature, and its scholarly and political stakes, before discussing in depth the case of military-regulated prostitution during the Philippine-American War, the first and foundational instance of US military authorities grappling with these questions.