Kritika Kultura Lecture Series, 12 September 2007

Kritika Kultura Lecture Series

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Vicente L. Rafael

Commentaries by
Dr. Remmon Barbaza, Department of Philosophy, ADMU
Mr. Gary Devilles, Kagawaran ng Filipino, ADMU
Dr. Bomen Guillermo, Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas, UP
Dr. Rolando Tolentino, UP Film Institute

Response by
Vicente L. Rafael

12 September 2007
Wednesday, 4.30-6.00 p.m.
PLDT-Convergent Technologies Center Room 105
Ateneo de Manila University

In The Promise of the Foreign (Duke University Press, 2005; Anvil Publishing,Inc., 2006), Vicente L. Rafael argues that translation was key to the emergenceof Filipino Nationalism in the nineteenth century. Acts of translation entailed techniques from which issued the promise of nationhood. Such a promise consisted of revising the heterogeneous and violent origins of the nation by mediating one’s encounter with things foreign while preserving their strangeness. Rafael examines the workings of the foreign in the Filipinos’ fascination with Castilian, the language of the colonizers. In Castilian, Filipino nationalists saw the possibility of arriving at a lingua franca withwhich to overcome linguistic, regional, and class differences. Yet they were also keenly aware of the social limits and political hazards of this linguistic fantasy.

Through close readings of nationalist newspapers and novels, the vernacular theater, and accounts of the 1986 revolution, Rafael traces the deep ambivalence with which Filipinos came to regard Castilian. Their belief in the potency of Castilian meant that colonial subjects came in contact with are curring foreignness within their own language and society. Rafael shows how they sought to tap into this uncanny power, seeing in it both the promise of nationhood and a menace to its realization. He thus sheds light on the paradox of nationhood and a menace to its realization. Repeatedly opening borders to the arrival of something other and new, translation compels the nation to host foreign presences to which it invariably finds itself held hostage. (Back coverof The Promise of the Foreign.)

VICENTE L. RAFAEL is Professor of History at the University of Washington. He is the author of White Love and Other Events in Filipino History and Constructing Colonialism, both also published by Duke University Press, and editor of Figures of Criminality in Indonesia, the Philippines and Colonial Vietnam andDiscrepant Histories: Translocal Essays on Filipino Cultures

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