Contingent nationalisms: Political redaction and The Struggle for National Democracy

24 Mar 2023 11.00 AM - 01.00 PM The Hive LHS-TR+55 Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Michael Yeo

Hybrid seminar

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This talk deals with two editions of a book and two epochs in social history. Separated by less that five years, the first (1967) and second (1972) editions of Struggle for National Democracy, an instructional handbook for activists written by Jose Ma. Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, expressed the fundamental change that had taken place in Philippine social life in the intervening years. The first edition appeared at the onset of great social struggles; the second was published months before Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law. The 1972 edition of SND was a fundamentally altered work, heavily and surreptitiously redacted to express the changed political perspective and alliances of Sison's organizations. The extensive redactions were intended to hide the past, but read with a critical eye they in fact document it. The alterations to the text were made precisely at the points of greatest political contention and they thus can serve as a key to the critical historical issues around which the hidden disputes – the subterranean outworkings of the Sino-Soviet split in the Philippines – expressed themselves. The redactions serve as signposts for locating previously overlooked aspects of the past and the mechanisms designed to elide history thus become our guide for its reconstruction. 

Joseph Scalice is a historian of revolutionary movements and authoritarianism in Southeast Asia with a focus on the postwar Philippines. He is Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Nanyang Technological University. His book, The Drama of Dictatorship: Martial Law and the Communist Parties of the Philippines (Cornell, 2023), uncovers the role played by rival Communist parties in the conflict that culminated in Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of martial law in 1972. Scalice has published articles on social struggles, dictatorship, and the Sino-Soviet split in Southeast Asia in Critical Asian Studies, History and Anthropology, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Modern Asian Studies, Philippine Studies, and Diplomatic History, among other journals.