In Postcolonial Lens: Analysis of Philippine Archaeology’s History and Direction

Abstract

The historical context of archaeology in the Philippines was shaped by colonial influences, and it can be seen through various foreign archaeologists who initially worked and contributed to the archipelago. The study uses the framework of Edward Said’s Orientalism to carefully extract the colonial features of Philippine archaeology through an overview of the discipline’s history from the late nineteenth century up to the present. The study finds that the practice of Philippine archaeology became a hybrid of its western origin and nationalistic view—showcasing a unique blend of indigenous knowledge, scientific advancements, and antiquarian perspective. The discipline also moved away from its western roots as it leans more on actual fieldwork and public archaeological efforts rather than pursue theoretical discourses. The study reveals the importance of nationalism in archaeological practice in postcolonial states in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines as it was used to promote common heritage and unity to its multicultural landscape. Lastly, the paper also presents current developments in the discipline and its influence on future archaeological research.

Résumé

Le contexte historique de l’archéologie aux Philippines a été façonné par les influences coloniales et il peut être observé grâce à plusieurs archéologues étrangers ayant travaillé à l’origine dans l’archipel pour y apporter une contribution. L’étude s’appuie sur le cadre de l’Orientalisme d’Edward Said pour extraire avec méticulosité les caractéristiques coloniales de l’archéologie philippine grâce à une présentation de l’histoire de la discipline à compter de la fin du 19ème siècle jusqu’à la période actuelle. L’étude conclut que la pratique de l’archéologie philippine est devenue un hybride entre son origine occidentale et sa vision nationaliste, proposant une association unique de savoir indigène, d’avancées scientitiques et d’une perspective antique. La discipline s’est également éloignée de ses racines occidentales et s’appuie davantage sur un travail réel de terrain et des efforts publics en faveur de l’archéologie plutôt que sur la poursuite de discours théoriques. L’étude révèle l’importance du nationalisme pour la pratique de l’archéologie dans les états post-coloniaux de l’Asie du Sud-Est tels que les Philippines, car il était utilisé afin de promouvoir un héritage commun et une unité pour son paysage multiculturel. Enfin, l’article présente aussi les développements en cours de la discipline et son influence sur la recherche future archéologique.

Resumen

El contexto histórico de la arqueología en Filipinas fue moldeado por las influencias coloniales y se puede ver a través de varios arqueólogos extranjeros que inicialmente trabajaron y contribuyeron al archipiélago. El estudio utiliza el marco del orientalismo de Edward Said para extraer cuidadosamente las características coloniales de la arqueología filipina a través de una visión general de la historia de la disciplina desde finales del siglo XIX hasta el presente. El estudio encuentra que la práctica de la arqueología filipina se convirtió en un híbrido de su origen occidental y su visión nacionalista, mostrando una combinación única de conocimiento autóctono, avances científicos y perspectiva anticuaria. La disciplina también se alejó de sus raíces occidentales, ya que se apoya más en el trabajo de campo real y los esfuerzos arqueológicos públicos en lugar de perseguir discursos teóricos. El estudio revela la importancia del nacionalismo en la práctica arqueológica en los estados poscoloniales del sudeste asiático, como Filipinas, ya que se utilizó para promover el patrimonio común y la unidad en su paisaje multicultural. Por último, el artículo también presenta los desarrollos actuales en la disciplina y su influencia en futuras investigaciones arqueológicas.

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Rodil, C.J.B. In Postcolonial Lens: Analysis of Philippine Archaeology’s History and Direction. Arch (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11759-020-09404-9

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Key Words

  • Postcolonial theory
  • Orientalism
  • Philippine archaeology
  • Indigenous archaeology