I don’t know if I can possibly give justice to the conference after a keynote speech like the one we just had. At any rate, I can at least try. Perhaps to sum up what has gone on since the beginning of this conference and workshop series, I can begin with an anecdote. When we started PHISO, most of us probably were not quite aware what we were getting into. It began merely as an idea in cyberspace, roughly three years ago in 2015. What many of us who eventually came together had in common were 1) we wanted to participate in IR-related events, 2) we wanted to help in creating venues and possibilities for such events, 3) we wanted to meet like-minded people with whom we could share our research interests, and 4) we wanted to explore how to do IR in our own context. I think all of us were very much inspired when presented with the possibility that there were scholars in IR who pushed for a more pluralist and inclusive field.
A field that took note of what was occurring in the Global South, in Asia, Africa, Latin America, one that considered identities and histories. Ever since our beginnings, we have organized many events in pursuit of these potentials. This happens to be one of them. If you look at Davao, you see a city that is very frequently left out of the national narrative. It is invariably characterized as an unsafe and difficult neighborhood by the media and other states. Travel warnings are, and have been, issued to those whose governments believe that it is far too dangerous to visit. Yet, you are all still here, and you are all, if my vision serves me correctly, very much alive. And if word of mouth is to be believed, most of you claim to have had a wonderful time during your brief sojourn here. Perhaps if IR opens its eyes to alternative narratives and knowledge-claims, as we all have in some way here, we can have a better understanding of the world, and the various meanings of the ‘good life’.
We have heard from scholars from so many disciplines, from Languages to Law, to Geography and Political Science. That is what makes IR so exciting and dynamic. We have witnessed Asians speaking the language of Western theory and Europeans speaking the language of our experiences and lived lives in Southeast Asia. We have seen with our own eyes the emergence of the peripheries. PHISO, perhaps like these ideas, started out small. But now we find ourselves here, in this encouraging and friendly atmosphere, surrounded by motivating and supportive scholars and friends from all over the world.
And for this I would like to thank all of you. I would like to thank you for taking a chance on us, many of you coming from far away to the Southern Philippines; I would like to thank you for giving your time and effort to support this conference. I would like to thank ADDU and its International Studies Chair, John Harvey Gamas, its faculty members and students, for taking care of us, if we are to take our humanistic cue from the East Asian IR of the last presentation. And last but not least, to the PHISO Members and Board of Trustees, Nassef, Archill, Brian, Riro and Erick for the inspiration. In our years together, we have grown together like a family and for that I am very grateful. Maraming salamat sa lahat. Thank you all and I wish you a good night ahead.
Asst. Prof. Frances Antoinette Cruz
24 March 2018, Davao City