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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Imagining igorots : performing ethnic and gender identities on the Philippine Cordillera Central McKay, Deirdre Christian


Gender, ethnicity, landscape, nation — none exist as real places or categories but as the effect of various practices that bring bodies and spaces into being. This dissertation attempts to rethink concepts of gender and ethnicity away from traditional ideas of places and cultures. To do so, it embeds them within social practice as performatives emerging from the colonial encounter. The text reports on ethnographic field research among Igorot communities originating on the Philippine Cordillera Central. By applying Burawoy's extended case method to local narratives of identity, history and migration, the argument extends theorizations of locality and gendered subaltern agency. The analysis locates the imaginative work that produces local places, subject positions and subjectivities within a palimpsest of transnational discourses, outmigration and local innovations. Locality and subjectivity are shown to be embedded in and produced by both local experiences and global identifications of difference originating within colonial histories. In narrating and dis-placing colonial stories of places and people, the power of these discourses on gender and ethnicity to constitute subjects with coherent names is challenged. By tracing the-persistence of the colonial past in the apparently de-colonized present, this text suggests that the concepts of performance and naming can help to make greater theoretical and empirical sense of the (post)colonial world.

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