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An essential book – Apr. 01, 2004 is my column today in the Inquirer.
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April 2, 2004 at 6:07 pm (UTC 8)
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The 7th International Conference on Philippine Studies (7th ICOPHIL)
“The Philippines: Changing Landscapes, Humanscapes, and Mindscapes in a
Globalizing World” The Netherlands (Leiden) 16-19 June 2004
The Seventh International Conference on Philippine Studies is organised to provide a forum for scholars engaged in research on Philippine society, culture, economy and environment. Focusing on past and present developments in the Philippines it will devote special attention to interconnections between the Philippines and the world at large. A growing awareness of global relationships has become part of the academic disciplines from which the participants study Philippine issues. These disciplines include anthropology, history, linguistics, literature, sociology, political science, economics, geography, environmental sciences, performing arts, communication sciences and others in the broad field of the humanities and social sciences. Also scholars from the exact sciences who have hitherto not taken part in these conferences (for instance specialists in meteorology, volcanology, agricultural sciences, medicine and engineering) are enjoined to discuss the social relevance of their subject matter for Philippine society. Multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives are becoming increasingly important. This makes the organisation of periodical multidisciplinary conferences even more fruitful and inspiring.
The International Philippine Studies conferences are held on a four-year schedule alternately in the Philippines and other continents. The European Philippine Studies Conference (Europhil) scheduled for the same year will be merged with the 7th ICOPHIL.
Scholarly contributions on major processes in the Philippines, and not only the ephemeral “newsworthy” ones, are needed in order to inform public discussions with historical and theoretical perspectives. Such processes include substantial shifts in the country’s social, economic and political organisation, with considerable changes in identity of nearly 80 million Filipinos at home and more than seven million abroad. Consider, for instance, the rapid succession of political regimes, the rise of NGO activism, the urban sprawl, the substantial changes in the natural environment, the rise and decline of regional insurgencies, the economic downturn after the Asian crisis and the global shock of 11 September 2001. Questions of belonging to visible or imagined communities have emerged at many levels: local, regional, national and diasporic transnational. The rapid nationwide connection to the internet has further expanded the options.
Comparative and connective perspectives on these and other relevant issues are particularly welcomed. Valuable insights may be gained by comparing, for instance, Filipino nation-building projects, centralisation versus decentralisation or federalism, the role of economic elites, the protection of natural resources and the urban heritage, with similar processes in other countries.
Much substantive research in Philippine studies remains to be done, but much is already being effected by a sizeable contingent of scholars all over the world, particularly in the Philippines itself. The ICOPHIL organisers are committed to provide a forum for them, and to help promote scholarship that does not remain inside the walls of academia, but contributes substantially to strategic thinking and policy making for sustainable development.
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