The 2018 Philippine Studies Conference ignited discussions on cultural ownership, commodification, and appropriation in the context of the Philippines Cordillera during a two-day conference at SOAS University of London on 13-14 July 2018.
Researchers, anthropologists, cultural advocates, artists, and diplomats gathered from all over the United Kingdom to participate in the conference’s academic discussions, film showing, book fair, and exhibit. UK-based Cordillerans performed traditional dances and songs at the close of the conference.
“This year we chose to focus on the Cordillera but with a specific look at cultural appropriation. It is timely because it is not only an academic issue it is also a political and economic issue,” said Dr. Cristina Martinez-Juan, Senior Teaching Fellow at the South East Asia Section of the SOAS University of London’s School of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics. “We thought that by gathering artists, academics, actual community organizers who do work on the Cordillera, and representatives from the different groups in the Cordillera, we can highlight these issues in a setting that is open and we can discuss them without fear of misrepresentation.”
Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores, Museum Director of Museo Kordilyera Ethnographic Museum, delivered the keynote during the first day of the conference. Many of Dr. Salvador-Amores’ works probes the issue of cultural representation, commodification, and appropriation. Her interest to openly discuss and study these issues in-depth, particularly in the context of the Cordillera, sprang from a range of research she has conducted in the region, particularly in Kalinga and Ifugao.
“The Igorots have always been misrepresented in the past, and it is difficult to disentangle these misrepresentations to the present. Today, the Igorots are no longer what they used to be, they are global Filipinos and they have a rich tradition to be proud of, wherever they are,” she said.
The Philippine Embassy in London supported the event and its thrust in promoting a deeper understanding on the rich cultural heritage of the Cordilleras. The conference was primarily organized by SOAS University of London.
Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio Manuel Lagdameo believes that events such as the Philippine Studies Conference provide a powerful and effective platform in addressing cultural misrepresentation and in promoting deeper cultural understanding.
“The Philippine Studies Conference presents an opportunity to engage different people in constructive dialogue in order to address critical issues related to culture,” said the Ambassador. “For cultural diplomacy to be effective, it must provide avenues where we can paint a clear and authentic picture of the people who represent the different facets of our culture.”
Second Secretary and Consul Rommel A. Romato and Third Secretary and Vice-Consul Stacy Danika S. Alcantara-Garcia represented the Embassy during the conference.