AAS Annual Meeting

Southeast Asia Session 603

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Session 603: (En)Gendering Philippine Studies

Organizer and Chair: Vina A. Lanzona, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

Discussant: Vina A. Lanzona, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

The development of women's and feminist history has changed the way we understand and write about the past. Feminist scholars have pointed out the neglect of women actors in history, and this has led to the writing of women's histories and to a more general reexamination of the role played by gender in history and the social sciences. And yet, according to Barbara Watson Andaya, "the historical study of women and gender in Southeast Asia," is still a "new field . . . left in the wake of the theoretical and methodological advances made in other disciplines and world areas." While this is gradually changing in the historiography of women and gender in twentieth-century Southeast Asia, there is still much to be done in the field of Philippine Studies. A short review of recent studies on Philippine institutions, politics and history still exhibit male-dominated perspectives, or simply, a general neglect of women and issues of gender and sexuality. In this panel, we want to highlight new research by Filipino scholars—all working outside the Philippines—who have responded to recent academic advances in Western academia related to the issues of gender, sexuality, and femininity, while still being firmly grounded in Philippine historiography. The following papers—one, that analyzes how Spanish religious orders placed sexual and religious transgressions at the center of the trial of Maria Campan, a Lumad convert who participated in the anti-Spanish Caraga revolt in 1611, the second, on the labor migration of Filipinas in East Asia who wed and reproduce bi-racial children in often hostile environments, and the third, on the persistence of Orientalist imagery in the representation of Filipinos in the postcolonial US-Philippine relationship as depicted in film—all take issues of women, gender, Filipinos and the Philippines to a new level. The discussion will center on the new directions of research on women and gender being done in the Philippines and abroad, as well as reflect on how scholars’ identities as Filipinos living outside, yet deeply engaged in the Philippines, shape their research and their profession.

Hybridity, otherness, and polyglot communities in the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and other Southeast Asian societies: How trans-national marriages and bi-racial children are pushing the boundaries on “tolerance building” and social identities.
Jacqueline A. Siapno, , Japan

This research paper is a gendered analysis of reproduction migration as labor mobility. Until recently, most studies of labor mobility focused primarily on the feminization of migrant work in factories and in the political economy of global care work. Increasingly, however, we see the phenomenon of Filipina and other Southeast Asian women migrating abroad to countries like Korea, Japan, and Taiwan primarily for the purpose of marriage and reproductive labor. The phenomena of trans-national marriages and bi-racial children between Southeast Asian wives (mostly from the Philippines) and rural Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese husbands explores the emerging social problems and anxieties about hybridity, otherness, and polyglot communities in societies that have long prided themselves for “homogeneity”. With the refusal of Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese women to marry rural men from an underprivileged political-economic sector (agrarian societies), and the low fertility rate in these countries, there has been an increasing number of systematically organized transnational marriages for Filipina and other Southeast Asian brides. This paper, based on empirical and ethnographic fieldwork, interviews and secondary sources, explores the challenges and unanticipated consequences of reproduction migration, in some cases using Southeast Asian women as “surrogate mothers” and then divorcing them and taking the children. It explores the political economy of intimate caring work (including elderly care and childcare) that poor Southeast Asian women are now doing in East Asia, as they take over the work that Korean upwardly- mobile and economically independent women no longer want to do. In spite of the financial assistance provided for multicultural centers to cater not only to foreign spouses but also factory and other migrant laborers from Southeast Asia, there continues to be not only severe racism, racist attitudes and mentality, but also domestic violence. The paper problematizes the increasing inequality between First World and Third World women, between East Asia and Southeast Asia, in the political economy of caring work for children and the elderly, and in the use of reproductive labor of Filipina women.

Vague Stirrings: Feminization as Unconscious Resistance in Orientalist Imagery
Joel David, Inha University, South Korea

Some of the early criticism directed at Edward Said’s study of Western Orientalist texts brought up the issue of Said’s disparagement of not just Orientalist literature but of the entire tradition and ideological foundation of Orientalist practice. Later critiques, formulated by women authors, sought to strengthen, rather than demolish, Said’s enterprise by introducing the element of gender to Said’s near-exclusive reliance on race politics. This paper banks on the tension inherent in this reformulation of Orientalism – the push-and-pull of hatred and desire even among same-sex subjects – in film, the primary popular culture vehicle used by dominant global powers, notably the US. The Philippines can serve as a special case, in that it has been the US’s only formal colony. Not surprisingly, elements traceable to the Philippines and its fraught relationship with America show up in the output of Hollywood, even in products as supposedly innocuous as horror films and romantic comedies. The special instance of a transitional (late-Classical and early new-Hollywood) melodrama, Reflections in a Golden Eye, adapted from a Southern Gothic novelette by Carson McCullers, will be inspected for its depiction of queer postcoloniality in the transplantation of a Filipino male “housemaid” in the troubled middle-American home of a war returnee.

The Blasphemy of Maria Campan: Gendering Apostasy and Piety in the Caraga Revolt of 1631
Oona M. T. Paredes, National University of Singapore, Singapore

The Caraga Revolt of 1631 was the first known bloody anti-Spanish uprising amongst the Lumad peoples of Mindanao. Four Recoleto missionaries and scores of Spanish troops were killed as the rebels attempted to rally their fellow Lumad to their side. The rumored presence of Magindanaw prahus on the coast further fuelled the drama as it unfolded over several days. In this paper I review official reports about the Caraga Revolt, analyzing specifically the response of Spanish missionaries and soldiers to the alleged actions of Maria Campan, a Lumad convert, during and after the revolt. Campan, one of the few Lumad individuals named in the reports, and the only woman at that, was accused of dressing up in a priest's vestments and staging a mock Mass at the beginning of the revolt, but nothing else. These actions may seem to us inconsequential and minor compared to the larger scope of the revolt, especially when considered in light of the massacre of four priests and the alcalde mayor of Caraga. Yet her crimes are allotted their own special hearing, seemingly placing the gravity of her acts on the same level as those of the main conspirators of the revolt. The main conspirators, all elite male converts, as well as warriors who had fought against the Moros under the Spanish banner, raided the Tandag garrisson in an act of complete treachery as they used their familiarity and friendships with the Spanish troops to gain easy entry into the only Spanish fortification on the eastern side of Mindanao. I will analyze how the Spanish, and Religious, obsession with Maria Campan's acts – framed within the context of a wider treachery by former Christians – appears to be influenced by profoundly gendered expectations regarding piety and propriety, with her actions a shocking transgression of deeply entrenched Spanish sexual and religious boundaries that were likely invisible to the Lumad. Her re-entry to the Christian fold after the conclusion of the (utlimately unsuccessful) revolt also speak to the complex, and also gendered, intimacy of the missionary-convert relationship, held in constant tension by the risk of both betrayal and the promise of forgiveness.