Academic journal article Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

The Early Years of Philippine Studies, 1953 to 1966

Academic journal article Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

The Early Years of Philippine Studies, 1953 to 1966

Article excerpt

The academic journal has been a key element of the scholarly world for some time and as a key component of this world it deserves historical examination. But this has not often been forthcoming, especially for regions of the world outside the Anglo-American core. In this article I examine the content of the early years of Philippine Studies. Founded in 1953, it has survived and prospered up to the present day as a vehicle for scholarly studies of the Philippines. It makes an admirable candidate for analysis not only because of this continuity through time, but also due to its ready availability in electronic form. And given the well-developed nature of social science and humanities research in the Philippines, it is an excellent choice for an exploratory study of academic journals published in Southeast Asia.

The origins of Western forms of academic inquiry in Southeast Asia are usually traced back to an era of colonial scholar-administrators: names such as J.R. Logan and R.O. Winstedt in British Malaya, J.S. Furnivall in Burma, George Coedes in French Indochina and G.A.J. Hazeu in the Dutch East Indies. Enabling these scholars (or enabled by them) were journals that served to create communities of those interested in local cultures and conditions, if not always scholarly by profession or inclination.

The earliest of these was Logan's Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia (1847 to 1863). Soon afterwards, the Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde was founded by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (1853 to the present). Later still came the journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (1877 to the present), (1) the Bulletin de l'Ecole francais d'Extreme-Orient (1901 to the present), and the Journal of the Burma Research Society (1911 to 1980). For the most part, these journals focused exclusively on the colony in which they were published.

In the Philippines, as noted by Alfred McCoy, the American colonial regime did not produce to the same extent as in the European colonies a class of scholar-administrators well versed in local languages and cultures. (2) However, it did produce a number of scholarly social science and humanities journals, although much later than the rest of the region and more closely tied to local universities. The earliest of these was Unitas (1922 to the present), an organ of the oldest European university in Asia, Santo Tomas. The University of the Philippines also published a journal, the Philippine Social Science Review (1929 to the present). (3)

A second round of expansion of what may be termed the informational infrastructure dedicated to producing knowledge about, and to a lesser extent, within, Southeast Asia took place in the aftermath of the Pacific War. The conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States at that time found a key battlefield in Southeast Asia where most of the region experienced movements of resistance to the re-imposition of colonial regimes, many of which involved the use of armed confrontation. In the eyes of colonial governments and their American ally, these movements were 'infected' with communism requiring a prolonged effort at wiping out the 'contagion'. (4) Part of this struggle was informational in nature and found expression in the United States in the creation and expansion of area studies programmes focusing on Southeast Asia, which had only just emerged as a recognised region since the time of the Pacific War. (5)

The Philippines was only loosely connected to this newly emerged regime, its position being described as a 'lesser satrapy' by one scholar reflecting on the history of Southeast Asia as a field of study. (6) Nevertheless, the Cold War did not leave the Philippines untouched in terms of the development of informational infrastructure. One such development was the journal Philippine Studies, a direct product of the concern its founding editors and financial backers in the Philippine Jesuit order had over the perceived threat of communist revolution. …

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