Posts Tagged ‘colonialism’

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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[This is an expanded version of a comment prompted by this insightful post from Prof. Sussuro.]

Caster Semenya won the women’s 800-meter race by 2.45 seconds over her nearest rival. I want to start with that fact, because that win is amazing. She is amazing. And this being lost in all these rumors and speculations about Semenya’s sex, gender tests, and possible disqualification.

By now, a number of Pinoys have noted similarities between Semenya and Nancy Navalta, a Pinay teenager whose gender came under scrutiny when she started setting track records in the Philippines in the early 1990s. For both Semenya and Navalta, it was their appearance—their well-muscled physiques and flat, powerful chests—that was used to question their femaleness. Both women departed radically from the standards of beauty and softness often associated with womanhood.


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