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Part 1: Colonialism and Meta-Narratives in the Philippines: Decolonizing History through Community Archaeology among the Ifugao

Wednesday, May 5, 12:00 pm1:00 pm

Please join UCOP’s Native American, Indigenous and Pacific Islander Staff Association on May 5, 2021 for a presentation and Q&A about decolonizing history and knowledge production by Dr. Stephen Acabado, associate professor of Anthropology at UCLA.

Presentation description:

Historical narratives describe Philippine Cordillerans as isolated and “untainted” by European, or even by lowland, cultures. They (highland peoples) then become stereotypes of “original Filipinos,” a label that is ethnocentric since it denotes unchanging culture through centuries of existence. Indeed, Philippine history is replete with these narratives; that there was a need to civilize and Christianize the “isolated” Philippine ethnolinguistic groups. Models, such as the Waves of Migration Theory and the Three Age System, developed by otherwise well-meaning people were unwittingly racist and Eurocentric. However, our archaeological studies now tell us that highland groups, particularly the Ifugao, had active and intense contacts with lowland and other highland groups, especially, during the Spanish colonial period.  In fact, rapid social change coincided with the arrival of the Spanish in northern Luzon. This talk outlines how local histories and community engagement can facilitate the decolonization of history and knowledge production.

About the presenter:

Stephen Acabado is associate professor of Anthropology at UCLA.  His archaeological investigations in Ifugao, northern Philippines, have established the recent origins of the UNIESCO-listed Cordillera Rice Terraces, which were once known to be at least 2,000 years old.  Dr. Acabado directs the Ifugao and Bicol Archaeological Projects and co-directs the Taiwan  collaborative research program between the University of the Philippines-Archaeological Studies Program, the National Museum of the Philippines, UCLA, and the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement.  His work revolves around agricultural systems, indigenous responses to colonialism, subsistence shifts, landscape archaeology, and heritage conservation. He is a strong advocate of an “engaged” archaeology where descendant communities and various stakeholders are involved in the research process.


Wednesday, May 5
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm