Mindanao as a case of settler colonialism: Sherwin Mendoza, Landlessness, War, and Displacement in Literatures of Mindanao and Sulu, Kritika Kultura, 25, 2015, pp. 89-141


Abstract: This monograph attempts to clarify the relationships of Filipino Americans to the diaspora of Christian settler colonists in Mindanao with the hope of facilitating solidarity between Filipino Americans and the peoples of Mindanao and Sulu. It begins with a consideration of Carlos Bulosan, perhaps the most prominent figure within the discipline of Filipino American Studies, in terms of the brief appearance of Mindanao in America is in the Heart. The bulk of the monograph, however, is centered on literatures of the Southern Philippines, a region that is often overlooked within the discipline of Filipino American Studies, and in particular it examines the historical evolution of landlessness, displacement, and war in the Southern Philippines through the close reading of texts produced there. The first text is “Blue Blood of the Big Astana,” a story from the Commonwealth period of US-Philippine history, written by Ibrahim Jubaira, the mostrecognized Muslim writer in English from the Philippines. Jubaira’s story is notable for its depiction of the persistence of ideas concerning land tenure, status, and kinship from a time just prior to US colonial rule within a context determined by the increasing inroads of merchant capitalism fostered by the US colonial state. However, Jubaira’s story is very partial when contextualized in terms of debates concerning the fate of Mindanao and Sulu during the years preceding the formal independence of the Philippines. The monograph then moves to the near-present to consider a story by the Maranao writer Loren Hallilah I. Lao, “The Trip to a Forbidden Land,” as a plea for peace that is
constrained by the middle-class setting of the story. Finally, the emphasis shifts to a set of oral histories collected in the volume Land Tenure Stories in Central Mindanao. The shift to this set of texts corrects an urban and middle-class bias in the stories of Jubaira and Lao that would prevent Filipino American readers from understanding the concerns of Muslims and indigenous peoples and the causes of conflicts in the Southern Philippines. The stories of a specific conflict over land told by Muslims and Manobos in Land Tenure Stories highlight the importance of land as a necessary part of the livelihoods of many of the indigenous, Muslim, and Christian people of Mindanao and the ways in which landlessness and the lack of livelihoods are causes of conflicts in the Southern Philippines.

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