Talk on "Can Dance Videos Bring Peace? A Visual Ethnography of the Tausug Imagination of Belonging and Universality"

August 07, 2013

"Can Dance Videos Bring Peace? A Visual Ethnography of the Tausug Imagination of Belonging and Universality"

by Jose Jowel Canuday
PhD Anthropology, University of Oxford

Friday, 16 August 2013 / 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM at SEC - C 201A

Across the shantytowns and remote islands of Zamboanga and Sulu, Tausug dance and music videos are selling briskly well, inadvertently engendering a small but popular cottage media industry. Leading these productions are an unlikely set of media producers - impoverished wedding performers, video shop owners, and street sellers - whose creative works cultivated a widely accessible medium for imagining the constitution of the Tausug society. While invisible and inaudible to Philippine media consciousness, the videos these producers make thrived in the midst of low intensity but highly volatile armed conflicts in the region. Consequentially, the videos implicated ways of thinking about the place and displacement of the Tausugs in the broader but competing Bangsamoro and Filipino nationalist formations. Moreover, by tapping the material resources of electronic capitalism as a medium for local identity expression, the producers further entangle the Tausug imagined community into even more expansive but seemingly disjunctive expression of connections the Islamic ecumene and trans-local consumerism of pop culture.

This visual ethnographic presentation illustrates how subaltern cultural producers are able to redirect global flows of media technology and cultural imaginaries as valuable resources for the visualisation of the

Tausug sense of loyalty, devotion, tolerance, and connectedness. Furthermore, it will offer a glimpse of the creative process by which marginalised social agents are able to render abstract notions of local belonging and universal connections in material terms as medium for sharing an inclusive vision of a Muslim society. Such practice relevantly confers a lens for engaging rooted cosmopolitan theory as an analytical frame for knowing acts of engagement and openness towards the Other even while remaining passionately attached to family, class, faith, ethnicity, and nation. Ultimately, the Tausug video production experience opens up opportunities for us all to learn how else contradictions between sameness and difference, universality and belonging are reconciled, celebrated, and utilised as wherewithal for fostering peace and public understanding.

Lecture Series on Society and Culture 2013 - 2014

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Ateneo de Manila University