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ROUNDTABLE 1: The Philippines and the International

Moderator: Frances Antoinette Cruz (University of the Philippines, Diliman)
Participants:
1.1 Dr. Nassef Manabilang Adiong (PhISO and Co-IRIS)
1.2 Mark Salvador Ysla (Far Eastern University, Manila)
1.3 Archill Niña Faller-Capistrano (University of San Carlos, Cebu City)
1.4 John Harvey D. Gamas (Ateneo de Davao University)
1.5 Erickson D. Calata (Polytechnic University of the Philippines)
1.6 Satwinder Rehal (Philippine Women’s University)
1.7 Fatima Jenesis Rosario (De La Salle University, Manila)
1.8 Ricardo Roy A. Lopez (University of the Philippines, Diliman)
1.9 Louella Zarcilla (Lyceum of the Philippines University)
1.10 Brian U. Doce (Jilin University, China)

The ‘rise’ of the non-West in International Relations theory has been the subject matter of debates within IR that have centered mainly on the questions of the possibility of the Global South in postcolonial contexts, the heterogeneity of non-Western cultures and societies, comparisons between the central assumptions of Western and Eastern philosophy, and the explanatory power of parochial theorizing, among others. The experience of the Philippines, which encompasses territories embedded in pre-Hispanic regional trade networks, the Islamic ummah, the Spanish colonial system, the Westphalian state system, anti-colonial networks, and various globalizing forces, provides an opportunity to not only understand the confluence of these systems but the contributions of the Philippine experience to postcolonial discourse on views of the ‘international’, including recurring themes such as the prominence of ‘Western’ theory, the influence of training, institutional response to externalities, market demand, the relationship of the Philippines to knowledge production, language usage, and the configuration of academies. In light of this, we need to explore (1) the role of religion in the Philippines and its international networks, (2) processes of othering in postcolonial nation building, (3) regional relations in pre-Hispanic maritime trade networks, and (4) the institutionalization of International Studies in Philippine tertiary education.

A cursory glance at the subject matter of International Relations and studies curricula in the Philippines reveals the inclusion of a wide variety of disciplines ranging from tourism, cultural studies, business, political science, diplomacy and foreign policy. The post-colonial context of IR theory, practice and pedagogy in the Philippines is mirrored in commentaries on scholars on China (Qin, 2010) and in Indonesia (Sebastian & Lanti, 2010), where ‘Western’ paradigms have traditionally dominated educational syllabi and knowledge production. The disjuncture between Western normative and explanatory theories and the lived experience of populations in the Global South creates an impetus to explore local dimensions of the international under the period of globalization, and to capture variables and concepts that can aid in theory generation.

The diverse educational landscape of IR in the Philippines and the country’s entanglement in global networks offers possibilities of discussion about what the Philippines has contributed and can contribute to the field of International Relations, and conversely, how IR has been viewed in the Philippines. In previous discussions at the Philippine International Studies Organization’s (PhISO) general meetings, various issues were raised regarding the research goal of determining sources of Philippine concepts and theories that could be employed in International Relations, namely (1) the origin of the sources of knowledge, such as the corpora supporting inductive reasoning, (2) the appropriateness of the use of ‘Philippines’ with its colonial and exclusivist origins, (3) the relationship between parochial sources of knowledge and ‘grand theory’ about the international, and (4) the motivation of investigating ‘Philippine IR’.

It is thus far imperative for the ‘Sources of IR knowledge in the Philippines’ book project by PhISO which aims to explore potential starting points for this investigation. It is an attempt to confront the challenges of access to historical emic narratives and the role of ‘Western’ and colonial paradigms in shaping discourse, by adopting a consciously inclusive and interdisciplinary approach to the search for origins. Possibilities for chapters include the study of publications, pedagogy, institutionalization and practice of International Relations in the history of the Philippines during its status as a nation-state, the possibility of a history from below with Salazar’s Pantayong Pananaw, examining the role of the Catholic Church and other religions in the Philippines in informing views of the international, and sections expanding the scope of inquiry to include such topics as contrapuntal readings of texts, discourses of the international in representations of the vast Philippine labor diaspora, and social and linguistic histories of the current territories encompassing today’s Philippines prior to the creation of the nation-state.

Fear of Scope: Gatekeeping and Cultures of IR Pedagogy

The TRIP surveys have raised important questions as to the degree which ‘International Relations’ can be truly understood as an area of inquiry that is inclusive of non-‘Western’ theorizing and concepts, rather than remain an ‘American Social Science’. PhISO investigates how global and regional educational, institutional and ideational norms have been diffused, negotiated and implemented in the pedagogy and institutionalization of International Relations in the Philippines. In order to gauge the role that the Philippines plays in knowledge production in IR, this study adopts Acharya and Buzan’s (2010) hypotheses on non-Western IR, namely, if Western theories of IR can be said to be hegemonic in the Gramscian sense, and how local conditions contribute to the production of IR theory. If theory is always ‘for someone and for some purpose’ (Cox, 1981, p. 129) it is necessary to explore the implications of the interplay of knowledge and power on the theory, praxis and ‘identity’ of International Relations, in the sites of struggle between the disciplinal/inter-disciplinal, deductive/inductive, and international/parochial, particularly in the context of postcolonial nation-building, which in the Philippines was highly influenced by transnational Filipino scholars and the legacy of the United States, and Acharya’s ‘constitutive localization’ (2004, 2009).

Written by Frances Antoinette Cruz


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