The Vernacular/Local, the National, and the Global in Filipino Studies

Oscar V. Campomanes


Originally a concept paper for the Institute of Filipino Studies project in Oakland, California, this essay tracks a paradigmatic shift in area studies on the Philippines and ethnic studies of Filipinos/Filipino Americans toward what the writer calls “Filipino Studies.” Exceeding the national culture area assumptions of Philippine Studies and eschewing the assimilationist tendencies of long-standing notions of Filipino ethnicity, Campomanes bases this claim and project for a paradigmatic turn upon three critical planks: the diasporic dispersal of Filipinos in the age of globalization and late-modernity and how it problematizes unitary or organic concepts of Philippine nation, culture, and identity; the reformulation of Filipino nationalism to account for this global distension of the diverse constituencies that now appeal to a Filipino “national” identity and culture; and an historical etymology of the term “Filipino” to illustrate its power, over the term “Philippine,” to mark important junctures in the history of Filipino subject- and cultural formation and how these junctures might be read as instantiations of the vernacularizing act in Filipino formation. The vernacular or vernacularization, as used in this essay, is a term of mediation by which Filipinoness is evolved, contested, and opened up to new possibilities of reformulation; it is also used to underline the centrality of Filipino agency to the making and remaking of the nation to reflect not only diaspora but also its heteroglot/heterogenous composition.


globality, national identity, Philippine diaspora, Philippine Studies

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