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Archive for the ‘colonialism/postcolonialism’ Category

From Mondoweiss via curate:

protesters against palestian occupation

photo from mondoweiss.net

Noah Mae (second from left) and her friends are not Jewish either, though they were born in Israel and have lived there all their lives:

immigrant children of migrant workers in Israel playing

photo from BBC News

Noah Mae speaks and dreams in Hebrew. She is one of the more than 1,000 children of migrant workers who are scheduled for deportation this year.

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(Part One)

photo from New York Theatre Wire website

The following quote is from Dylan Rodriguez’s article “The Condition of Filipino Americanism: Global Americana as a Relation of Death”: [pdf]

At the nexus of a prevailing Filipino American discourse that celebrates the Filipino-American as a cooperative participant in the United States nation-building project sits an “unnamable violence” that masks the genocidal preconditions of “multiculturalist white supremacy to which this discourse unwittingly subscribes…It is as if being empowered through, and therefore more actively participating in the structures of U.S. state violence, white supremacy, and global economic and military dominance is something to be desired by Filipinos.

How could these acts of desiring what is in the colonizer’s economic and military interests, specifically on the part of Filipino elite, be explained? Especially when these colonizer interests run counter to their own?

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In his The Repeating Island, Antonio Benitez Rojo wrote of how common social and cultural practices make visible the Caribbean islands’ shared histories of plantation slavery. Benitez Rojo writes that these similarities stem from their common experience of the plantation machine—a colonial apparatus set up to extract resources from the colonies to profit the metropole. But in addition to producing profits for the colonizers, the plantation machine also produces a way of life. And long after overt colonialism has given way to postcolonialism, the plantation machine continues to produce and reproduce “the type of society that results from their use and abuse” (8-9).

Last week’s Philippine elections are making me reflect on Benitez Rojo’s metaphor of the plantation machine. The new president, Noynoy Aquino, is part of a powerful political landlord family whose collective hands are still bloody from the Hacienda Luisita massacre. The Marcos family–yes, including Imelda–have been re-elected back into office. And so has former president and incoming congressional representative Gloria Arroyo, who has just appointed her lapdog as the new Supreme Court Chief Justice to preside over her impending graft cases.

The most surprising thing about the elections, in fact, is reflected in Inquirer headline the day after: “Fast count stuns nation”.

So what are the plantation machines working here?

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From Arkibong Bayan (arkibongbayan.org)

Photo from Arkibong Bayan (arkibongbayan.org)

Edgar Allan Paule of the blog Viewer Discretion pretty much articulates my thoughts about the short film Ang sinabi ng mga magsasaka sa Hacienda Luisita [What the formers told me in Hacienda Luisita].

In the short film, Felicity Tan interviews farmers involved in the strike that led to the Hacienda Luisita massacre in November 2004.  The farmers argued against agrarian reform and voiced their support for the feudal system that had them as tenants. Under patronage, they said, conditions were better.

There are a number of good takedowns of the short film (such as this one). But the Spivak fangirl in me appreciates Edgar Allan Paule’s analysis of  how systematic forces like feudal capitalism co-opt the speech of those who are already exploited and rendered subaltern.

Hacienda Luisita strike. Photo from arkibongbayan.org

But. I am still struck by the suspicion with which these farmers regarded Satur Ocampo and the representatives of the Philippine left who came to support the strike. The farmers said they were fighting for better work, better pay. But the strike, as represented by their maka-kaliwa supporters, was turned into a call for land.

Iba na,” said one farmer.

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There was so much to choose from, but this one made me the saddest:

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Dear Kasama:

I feel bad that I spent the better part of our reunion railing about white liberal feminists and other scholars who frustrate the hell out of me. And that when you asked what it was about their work that bothered me, and what was I was looking for from them, I could not muster a coherent response.

So after a few days of thinking about your questions, this is what I’ve come up with.

Some specific things that bother me include:

  • that many Asian and Southeast Asian Studies departments are organized along Area Studies lines, focusing on regional security and economic development.
  • that my university’s department is still predominantly composed of white males, something that seems true of most Asian studies departments, based on conference attendance.
  • that readings lists in introductory classes are largely organized around the works of white scholars. Works by “natives” like Reynaldo Ileto get relegated to optional or recommended reading, much in the same way many Intro to Women’s Studies classes tokenize Audre Lorde and bell hooks.

My issue is not that these scholars and activists are assholes.  It’s that Western schools of thought on history and development studies (or worse, “Oriental Studies”) have an extremely poor track record of interpellating their former colonies. And our narratives still end up shoring their legacies of liberalism, neoliberalism, and colonialism.

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The descriptions that follow may be triggering, but please read and watch. People have asked me, “What can I do?” and it will be in the context of this violence—including sexualized violence–that this call to action is situated.

***

Last November 23, fifty-seven people were massacred in the Southern Philippine province of Maguindanao. They were on their way to filing a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, who was running against a powerful political dynasty with close ties to the Arroyo government. Because Esmael had received death threats, his wife Genalyn, two sisters Eden and Bai Farinna, and two female human rights lawyers Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon and Connie Brizuela went in his place. Also in the convoy were other family members and at least 35 journalists.

They expected  that a convoy of civilians—women and journalists—would be granted safe passage. Instead, witnesses report that the convoy was gunned down by a private army of 100 men. On a national highway. In broad daylight.

The bodies were later found in shallow graves and scattered around bullet-ridden vehicles.The bodies of the women were also sexually mutilated. Reports state that the women’s pants had been pulled down and that they had been “shot in their private parts.”

Marga Ortigas of Al Jazeera has a good report that situates this massacre in a wider context of “lawlessness, the proliferation of illegal weapons, the impunity with which crimes are committed.”

***

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