Continuing Negotiations of History, Identity, and Nation in Philippine Literary Production
Time & LocationSession 2
Wed 11:00–12:30 Room 1.403
- Glenn Diaz University of Adelaide
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- Capital-as-Presence and Space-as-Absence: The Language of Neo-Liberalism and the Narrative of Capital in Diaz’s “The Quiet Ones” Rogelio Braga Birkbeck, University of London
Diaz’s The Quiet Ones explores the lives of people in the labor force created by a global market system where work, public services, geography, identities, production and consumption in general are being shaped and directed by the flow of boundary-less foreign capital investments from developed countries. The novel presented characters as workers in the business process outsourcing industry in the Philippines, expatriates as highly skilled workers who migrated to the country to look for better opportunities in economic and social capital, and the various relationships with people surrounding these workers. This paper charts the terrain, nature, and the systemic movements of Capital through (1) Capital-as-presence in the text, framing or creating work patterns, human relationships, consumption behavior, and as a (2) Space-as-absence that mediates relationships between states, citizens and the State (represented by the law and state authorieties), between citizens as workers, between citizens as workers and their cities. The paper will employ Marx’s critique on Capital, Lukác’s reification and class consciousness discourse, and a post-structuralist textual examination to reveal the power structure that shapes the narrative of the novel. The paper concludes that neo-liberal economic agenda in/of globalization created a language where Capital is deeply embedded in a textual negotiation of/in meanings that legitimizes the power structure that perpetuates, supports, enables, and reinforces an oppressive elite, imperialist, and capitalist economic market system as the only alternative in rendering a concrete livable world.
- Dramatic Monologue and Queerness in the Early Work of J. Neil Garcia Mark Anthony Cayanan University of Adelaide
The paper intends to examine how the dramatic monologue in the early oeuvre of foremost Filipino queer poet J. Neil Garcia presents the “bakla,” or Filipino male homosexual speaking subjects. In particular, it explores how his use of the dramatic monologue—a genre that, among other characteristics, maintains a double discourse that disengages the author from the persona—functions as a strategic formal vehicle in the context of what was, in the 1990s, an incipient queer movement in the Philippines. The paper also explores how Garcia’s subscription to a New Critical paradigm compromises the subversive potential of his poetry as a site of formal and therefore political disruption.
- The Forest as Archive in Alvin Yapan’s “Sandali ng mga Mata” Glenn Diaz University of Adelaide
The paper seeks to situate the resurgence of speculative, or non-realist, fiction in Philippine fiction within the country’s broader experience of late capitalism. In particular, it will explore the archival function of the forest as haunted locus in Alvin Yapan’s Sandali ng mga Mata as a negotiation of and resistance to globalization’s cultural logic toward the repression of history.
- The Radical Filipino Poet in Iowa: Creative Writing and U.S. Cultural Diplomacy During the Marcos Regime Conchitina Cruz University of the Philippines Diliman
This paper examines the deployment of the International Writing Program (IWP) as an apparatus of American cultural diplomacy in the Philippines, specifically during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Filipinos were among the first fellows of the IWP in 1967, the second year of Marcos’s first term as Philippine president. By 1986, the year the dictator was ousted, a total of 18 Filipinos had already gone to the United States as IWP fellows. Included in this roster are two poets who joined the resistance against Marcos’s authoritarian rule. The activist Gelacio Guillermo attended the IWP in 1970, during the period of unrest that preceded the declaration of martial law in 1972. When Jose F. Lacaba attended the IWP in 1979, the seventh year of martial law, he had already survived imprisonment for two years as a result of his work in the underground movement.
The participation of Guillermo and Lacaba in a program of U.S. cultural diplomacy seems incompatible with their critical stance against an oppressive regime sustained in no small part by the United States through economic and military assistance. This study attempts to explore this contradiction via the poets’ own accounts of their IWP experience, as well as the poetry they circulated and/or wrote as IWP residents. It examines the ways the two poets reckoned with the Cold War liberalism propagated by the IWP, which both celebrated and contained their activism as proof of the “free” writer in the Free World, even as the U.S. enabled the regime the poets struggled against. It interrogates the privileges and compromises the poets contended with as participants in a U.S. program that explicitly functions as a tool for cultural diplomacy.
Well into the era pronounced as the end of History, the Philippine experience of late capitalism is nevertheless marked by its broad consequences: resurgent populism, systemic precarity, the rise of identity politics, and heinous inequality, all arguably implications of the country’s long and complex relationship with global structures of power. This panel seeks to examine potentially new paradigms and tangents framed as negotiations—via text and political practice alike—of key writers’ historical moments, from their participation in an American cultural diplomacy program during Martial Law to their use of formal and discursive strategies that contest even as they manifest their ongoing implications in historical subject formation.