The Annual Philippine Studies Conference SOAS focuses its 2019 edition on the southern island of Mindanao. It seeks to gather academics, policymakers, cultural workers, artists and scientists to map the contours of Mindanao’s struggle for peace after centuries of violent strife. This struggle is complex and, as an object of study, extremely dense. Its dimensions are simultaneously global, national, and local —and these layers are often collapsed into each other.
The Conference takes up the challenge of addressing this complexity and density with a new emphasis on cultural analysis. In the course of the last few decades, it has become abundantly clear that the integration of multi-disciplinary approaches requires a cultural perspective.
In taking up mapping as a metaphor for approaching Mindanao, the Conference draws attention to the porous and overlapping ethnolinguistic homelands; conceptual and physical sites of conflict, resolution, and/or cycles of seemingly perpetual repeats.
The island — volatile home to Muslim, settler, and autochtonous societies variously staking out claims for resources, territory, and opportunity— can in fact only be mapped with great nuance and a strong sense of dynamic cultural transformation.