Changing the Perception of America’s “Age of Imperialism” in America and the Philippines

Submitting Institution

Northumbria University Newcastle

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Other Studies In Human Society
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Michael Cullinane's research on anti-imperialism has influenced the way in which history is taught in a number of secondary schools across the United States. By making the research for his book Liberty and American Anti-Imperialism available through lesson plans on his website, Cullinane has given students and teachers access to relevant learning resources. As a result, lesson plans and state curricula have changed. Secondly, Cullinane has promoted a transnational and global perspective of the Philippine-American War, which has been adopted by heritage organisations, such as the Lopez Foundation of Balayan and the Filipino-American Association of New England (PAMAS).

Underpinning research

The underpinning research for this case study is reported in Cullinane's book on Liberty and American Anti-Imperialism, 1898-1909 and was completed at Northumbria University between 2011, when Cullinane joined the History team as a senior lecturer, and July 2012 when the book was published. Cullinane had gathered archival documents over a number of years, captured on digital camera, but the most substantial body of research was scrutinised from January-December 2011 and during this period analysed in close detail alongside a complete overhaul of his website which began in March 2011 to incorporate new findings and interpretations for the book. The website now reflects his findings and makes the research available to a wider audience of students and teachers.

Cullinane has also been working with two heritage organisations since 2011: the Lopez Foundation of Balayan, which consists of descendants of the two key historical characters who feature in Cullinane's book; and he has helped provide key research on Filipino activism in the Boston area, where American anti-imperialists were prominent, to PAMAS.

Cullinane's research engages with US diplomatic history and specifically the period known as the `great debate' in American foreign policy. From 1898 to 1909 there was widespread indignation at overseas expansion. The acquisition of territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines led to political and social unease. Scholars of US foreign relations have heavily researched the foreign policy and rationale for expansion, but have paid substantially less attention to the anti-imperialist movement which opposed these policies.

Cullinane's book is the first monograph to study the American anti-imperialist movement in over thirty-five years and provide a newly expanded purview of a neglected topic. It attempts to re-evaluate the movement in two ways. Unlike past accounts that view the anti-imperialists as an utter failure, the book explains the successes of the movement by putting anti-imperialism at the fore of popular debate about expansion, rather than seeing it as a mere footnote. As a result the traditional periodisation of this era as the `Age of Imperialism' has been challenged as monolithic. Cullinane's work has encouraged and effected a more nuanced appraisal of U.S. history in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century.

The second contribution of Cullinane's book is to illustrate anti-imperialism as a transnational movement, whose intellectual influence transcended American borders and which sparked activism both at home and abroad. The research looks to include Filipino, Boer and European anti-imperialists as well as American activists to show the movement as a global phenomenon. The transnational perspective in Cullinane's book uses the Lopez family of the Philippines, in particular Sixto Lopez and his sister Clemencia, as the central example of how US-Filipino activism and transpacific evolved.

References to the research

• Cullinane, M.P., (2010) 'Transatlantic Dimensions of the Anti-Imperialist Movement', Journal of Transatlantic Studies 10, no. 4 (December, 2010), 301-14. DOI: 10.1080/14794012.2010.522324


• Cullinane, M.P., (2012), Liberty and American Anti-Imperialism, 1898-1909 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). DOI: 10.1057/9781137002570


• Cullinane, M.P., (2012) `Imperial "Character": How Ideas of Race, Civilization and "Character" Shaped Theodore Roosevelt's Imperialism,' Theodore Roosevelt and Europe, ed. Jack A. Thompson (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012). DOI: 10.1057/9781137286499.0007


Details of the impact

The key contribution of the book is the re-assessment of anti-imperialism as an important opposition movement in US history. The re-assessment is explained and illustrated on the website through documentary evidence of primary material. The website, however, also demonstrates how conceptual arguments can be applied in education and how they substantially influence curriculum. Schools that have used the website's learning resources based on the book no longer concede a single narrative approach and instead teach the history of this period as one of `great debate' rather than of broad consensus.

The growth of the website as a resource has happened naturally and now commands over 120,000 page views every year with 65% from the USA, 22% from the Philippines, 12% from Ireland and the UK and 6% from elsewhere including among others, Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada, France, and India (Source 1).

The education community has recognised the value of the website for adjusting history curricula entirely organically. A "curricula engineer" for Social Studies at Delaware Department of Education (responsible for statewide curricula in 237 schools serving 125,000 students) encouraged Cullinane to `use Delaware as an example of how your terrific website is used by students and teachers'. She pointed out that the website is employed across the state in a learning unit called "Analyzing Historical Data" (which is) part of the state curriculum for high school social studies.' For this unit, a lesson plan incorporating the Liberty and Anti-Imperialism website and Cullinane's book are central to completing Delaware's history program since 2011 (Source 2). As a result, the Delaware Department of Education has re-evaluated its history curricula to include Cullinane's research and thus influenced classroom teaching in hundreds of schools. The Delaware Education Department has also used the site and book specifically to analyse historical data, and particularly to ensure thousands of students understand how history can be interpreted. This analytical skill is seen by the Education Department as vital to student future employability (Source 2).

The value of the site and book is further evident in the practice of other school districts who have adopted similar lesson plans from larger statewide education consortia. A Connecticut teaching project called `History is Central' has used the website as a resource for teaching domestic debates on war (Source 3). Not only has Cullinane's research triggered a change in lesson plans across entire US states like Delaware and Connecticut, but other American school districts are now using the site in everyday teaching. In their feedback teachers have commended the site as a good example of how historical resources should be made available to students and teachers (Sources 2, 3 and 6).

Consortia, where states pool resources around curricula development, are one example of how schools and teachers can access his impact work to employ in their own state teaching plans. From his Delaware work educators in other states have taken up his lesson plans etc. Additionally, individual teachers from other states, including Maryland, Missouri and Michigan have utilised the website for the same purpose. These links beyond Delaware show the penetration the research has made in state curricula and the teaching of other school students in the United States (Sources 3 and 6).

In addition to contributing to a more nuanced view of America's past, the variety of documents from around the world exhibits a transnational view of history. Documents from Filipinos and Boers have helped illustrate this new perspective and American schools are starting to incorporate this view.

Cullinane's research has further promoted his new perspective on anti-imperialism through collaboration with the Lopez Foundation of Balayan in 2012 and 2013. This Foundation manages a tourist and heritage centre in the Philippines with close connections to the school districts around Manila. They are currently working on refurbishing Casa Grande, a regional site for remembering the Philippine War. Cullinane has worked on explaining the importance of the Lopez Family to the Philippine revolution and the former president and trustee of the Foundation, has said of

Cullinane's book, `It gives so much insight to a part of history of which not much is known. There is so much more we have learnt in the chapter of our family'. Cullinane's effort has provided the Lopez Foundation with a new avenue for fundraising and collaboration. Most of their fundraising work had focused on the Philippines but Cullinane's contribution has encouraged them to work with American Filipino groups with similar interests and historical connections (Source 4) As a way to encourage this mutually beneficial link, Cullinane spent one month at Harvard University as the William Dearborn Fellow of American History and introduced New England Filipinos activists (PAMAS) to the Lopez Foundation. The former President of the Lopez Foundation said the trip brought `an awareness to our histories, and an opportunity to do more research in Boston' on these connections. Consequently, thanks to Cullinane's research the Lopez and PAMAS organisations are having a new fundraising event in Boston that coincides with the city's annual festival of Filipino independence. The money raised will go towards the preservation of Casa Grande (Sources 4 and 5).

Sources to corroborate the impact


  1. Liberty and Anti-Imperialism ( (corroborates materials for use by teachers)

Testimonial Letters

  1. Delaware Curriculum Standards and Appoquinimink Social Studies Teacher (e-mail corroborates that research from the book on the website is employed across the state in a learning unit called "Analyzing Historical Data" part of the state curriculum for high school social studies)
  2. Associate Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University and Social Studies Coordinator for `History is Central' (contact can provide corroboration of impact outside of Delaware in Connecticut teaching project called `History is Central' has used Cullinane's research from website and book as a resource for teaching domestic debates on war)
  3. Former President of the Lopez Foundation and acting trustee (e-mail corroborates impact on the preservation of Casa Grande since 2011)
  4. President of the Filipino-American Association of New England (contact can provide corroboration of impact on the establishment of links between Lopez Foundation and PAMAS and fundraiser for the preservation of Casa Grande in 2013)
  5. Lesson Plans (corroborates reach of research impact through consortia and individual teachers using website)