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The Uncolonized: Resisting Colonialism in the Northern Philippine Highlands

Colloquium with Prof. Stephen Acabado, UCLA Department of Anthropology

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The effects of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines can be seen in most parts of the country.  There are however, a number of locales that have resisted and/or endured Spanish cooptation that exhibit little overt evidence of Spanish influence.  One of these areas is the Ifugao province where the idea of being “uncolonized” is one of the bases of the Ifugao identity.  The dichotomy between highland and lowland Philippines is also largely constructed in this historical footnote, suggesting that the northern highland Philippines resisted Spanish domination.  Indeed, Spanish cultural footprints in the province are scant, owing to the failure of the colonial power to establish a permanent presence in the region. Nevertheless, there are major economic and political shifts in the highlands that coincided with the arrival of the Spanish in the northern Philippines.

The recent findings of the Ifugao Archaeological Project indicate that landscape modification (terraced wet-rice cultivation) intensified between c. AD 1600 and AD 1800, suggesting increased demand for food, which could also indicate population growth.  This period also shows increased social differentiation and apparent elite manipulation to maintain their position in the society. It is argued that, although the Spanish colonial government never controlled the interior of the Philippine Cordillera, the economic and political transformations in the region was drastic and this was likely due to the Spanish presence in the lowlands. Excavations from the Old Kiyyangan Village (Kiangan, Ifugao) also imply that the settlement had continuous contact/interaction with lowland groups and other highland groups between c. AD 1600 and late AD 1800, refuting the idea of isolation. This presentation discusses directions of the IAP as shaped by the findings from the 2012 and 2013 field seasons.

Stephen Acabado is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the UCLA Department of Anthropology.  His archaeological investigations in Ifugao, northern Philippines, have determined the more recent origins of the Cordillera Rice Terraces, which were once thought to be at least 2,000 years old.  These findings have encouraged the rethinking of Philippine prehistory. Prof. Acabado directs the Ifugao Archaeological Project, a collaborative research program between the University of the Philippines-Archaeological Studies Program, the National Museum of the Philippines, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement, Inc (SITMo). Through the participation of SITMo in the research program, the Ifugao community is actively involved in the IAP.

Cost : Free and open to the public.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies

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