English Seminar: Western Writers and Reporters on Manila from the Spanish Colonial Era to the Contemporary “Drug War” – School of Art Communication and English English Seminar: Western Writers and Reporters on Manila from the Spanish Colonial Era to the Contemporary “Drug War” – School of Art Communication and English

English Seminar: Western Writers and Reporters on Manila from the Spanish Colonial Era to the Contemporary “Drug War”

Pearl of the Orientalists: Western Writers and Reporters on Manila from the Spanish Colonial Era to the Contemporary “Drug War”

Presenter: Tom Sykes (University of Portsmouth, UK)

 Co-hosted by Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SEAC) and the English Department.

For more information on SSEAC, please visit: https://www.sydney.edu.au/sydney-southeast-asia-centre/

Drawing on arguments from his recent book Imagining Manila, Dr Tom Sykes of the University of Portsmouth, UK explores several enduring representational tropes and devices that have defined a trajectory of British and American Orientalist fiction, travel writing and journalism about the city of Manila, stereotypically dubbed ‘the Pearl of the Orient’. Over the centuries, a number of Western writers have condemned or fetishized poverty, vice and other social problems in Manila by decontextualizing them from transnational capitalism, (neo)colonialism and globalized inequality. Such ‘third world blues’ (Mary-Louise Pratt) has informed imaginative geographies of Manila as both an irrational, hell-like, ‘seething cauldron of Evil’ (Catholic Advance newspaper) and as a crude, flawed simulation of a Western city. Sykes also addresses a more nuanced literary and media discourse of so-called ‘liberal Orientalism’ dating back to the mid-nineteenth century that has mobilized the rhetoric of fraternity, guidance, romantic love, democracy and assimilation to conceal ethnocentric prejudices and (neo)imperialist depredations. These signifying practices have been crucial to the Western mediation and public understanding of key events in Manila’s history including the 1896 Revolution, Spanish-American and Philippine American Wars, World War II and the repressions of the Marcos and Duterte regimes. Sykes analyzes texts by authors well-known or otherwise: mid-19th century travellers from Robert MacMicking to Nicholas Loney, popular late Victorian novelists like Edward L. Stratemeyer and Archibald Clavering Gunter; the US colonial-era memoirists Mary H. Fee and Claire Phillips; postmodern novelists from Timothy Mo to Alex Garland; and contemporary reporters including Jonathan Miller and James Fenton. Finally, Sykes discusses a counter-hegemonic canon of writers, both Filipino and foreign, who have dissented from the reactionary assumptions of so-called ‘Manilaism’: Carlos Bulosan, Jessica Hagedorn, Alfred A. Yuson, Gina Apostol, Ivan Goncharov, Tom Bamforth, Maslyn Williams, John Sayles and others.

 

Dr Tom Sykes is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Journalism at the University of Portsmouth. Tom lived in Quezon City from 2009-10 and has been visiting and researching the Philippines ever since. His latest book is Imagining Manila: Literature, Empire and Orientalism, a postcolonial analysis of Western literary and media discourses on the city of Manila dating back several centuriesIn 2018, Tom published The Realm of the Punisher: Travels in Duterte’s Philippines, a ‘political travelogue’ of the contemporary Philippines that earned good reviews from the TLS and The London Magazine. The book featured interviews with land and indigenous rights activists, authors from F Sionil Jose to Charlson Ong, the anti-war artist Kublai Millan, a man who claimed to have been Ferdinand Marcos’ body double and a former ‘comfort woman’ (sex slave) to the Japanese military during World War II. Tom writes regularly about Philippine current affairs for Private Eye, Britain’s biggest-selling political magazine, and his other journalism on the country has appeared in the London TelegraphMonocleSoutheast Asia GlobeMorning Star, Declassified UK, The Fifth Estate and Red Pepper. Tom completed his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at Goldsmiths College, University of London under the supervision of Bart Moore-Gilbert and others. His academic essays have appeared in Interventions, The Journal of Postcolonial Writing, A Global History of Literature and the Environment and other outlets.


Venue

This particular event will be held online via Zoom only.

Contact: Liam Semler (liam.semler@sydney.edu.au).

 

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25 May

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SPECIAL TIME 6-7.30pm

Tom Sykes (University of Portsmouth, UK), ‘Pearl of the Orientalists: Western Writers and Reporters on Manila from the Spanish Colonial Era to the Contemporary “Drug War.”’

 

Co-hosted by Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and the English Department.

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Marc Mierowsky, ‘Daniel Defoe on Naturalization’
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Kira Legaan, ‘The Body and the Page: The Challenge of Adaptation.’

 

Date

May 25 2022
Expired!

Time

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

More Info

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Location

Via Zoom
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