Organized Panel Session
One must not forget that DGE Hall’s A History of Southeast Asia (1955) excluded the Philippines. Philippine historiography has, in turn, largely displaced the context of Southeast Asia, centering instead on its internal regions. This domestic regionalism stems from McCoy and De Jesus’s Philippine Social History (1982), which was a pioneering volume that inspired a reframing of the Philippine past in interdisciplinary and dynamic ways. Yet, the legacy of their publication has strangely reinforced—rather than ruptured—the insularity of Philippine studies.
Building upon and paying homage to Philippine Social History’s regional turn inward, this panel seeks to cohere a regional turn outward, examining the Philippines within the contingencies of Southeast Asia. Recognizing the regionality of Southeast Asia as a political product, this panel shows how ideas of regional space have existed in ways that complicate the ‘area studies’ imaginary and that also describe tangible, natural zones. Filipino proto-nationalists operated in a zone of solidarity that situated the archipelago within a Pan-Asian context. From Manila to Tokyo, colonial-era meteorologists manned an arc of observatories that mapped a typhoon belt. Pre-war scientists configured a region—based on ecological ways of knowing—from the Andamans to the Marianas Islands. Excavating these spaces, this panel returns the Philippines to its more fluid, regional context by heeding the interstices of environmental history and intellectual history. It locates the study of the Philippines not at the edge of Southeast Asia but embedded within it.