Citizen-Man: Medium of Democracy

Citizen-Man: Medium of Democracy
Speaker: Neferti Tadiar

Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011
Time: 2-4 p.m.
Location: 108N North House, Asian Institute Munk Centre Sponsored by the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies

The widely-lauded progressive achievements of U.S. colonialism in the Philippines during the early decades of the 20th century included the installation of modern technologies of public sanitation, mass transportation, communication and education as necessary conditions of a developing democracy and its underlying humanism. In this presentation, I discuss how emergent media of communication established under U.S. colonial rule contributed to the implementing of universal standards of human life and experience towards the formation of citizen-man, as the currency and code required for Filipinos’ political self-rule. I analyse the reorganization of subjective and social life entailed by U.S. imperial forms of governmentality, particularly the gender and racial effects of social accommodations to the protocols of personhood of citizen-man, through the media apparatuses of literature, photography, and radio. Finally, I examine other modes of sensorial experience and perceptibility and forms of human and social life that are remaindered, devalued and/or rendered illegible in the reconfiguration of natives according to the normative ideals and structures of liberal democracy. And I reflect on the significance of this archaeology of seemingly defunct forms of life in the context of contemporary claims of the demise of normative cultures of citizenship in neoliberalist, postdisciplinary societies of the current moment.

Neferti Tadiar is professor and chair of women’s studies at Barnard College. Her academic interests include transnational and third world feminisms; postcolonial theory; critical theories of race and subjectivity; literary and social theory; cultural studies of the Asia Pacific region; and Philippine studies. Her work concerns the role of cultural practice and social imagination in the production of wealth, power, marginality and liberatory movements in the context of global relations. While her research focuses on contemporary Philippine and Filipino cultures and their relation to political and economic change, she addresses, more broadly, questions of gender, race, and sexuality in discourses and material practices of nationalism, transnationalism, and globalization. She is currently working on a book-project entitled: Discourse on Empire: Living Under the Rule of Permanent War and beginning a new research project entitled Schooling National Subjects: Experience and Education in US Colonial Philippines. Her books include: Things Fall Away: Philippine Literatures, Historical Experience and Tangential Makings of Globality (Duke University Press, 2009),Beyond the Frame: Women of Color and Visual Representation, co-edited with Angela Y. Davis (Palgrave Press, 2005), and Fantasy-Production: Sexual Economies and Other Philippine Consequences for the New World Order (Hong Kong University Press/ Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2004). She is winner of the Philippine National Book Award (2005).

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