Friday Forum: Oona Paredes

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206 Ingraham Hall
@ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Fringe Histories: Re-placing imperial spaces in Southeast Asia within an Indigenous context

Oona Paredes
Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures
University of California – Los Angeles

How can we imagine the spaces and peoples at the fringes of empire without centering empire? In this talk, I speculate on the challenges and possibilities of historicizing the “fringe” spaces of Southeast Asia, expanding on the concept of pericoloniality that I introduced tentatively in my earlier work on the ethnohistory of the various Lumad peoples of Mindanao. The Lumad, in the southern Philippines, are but one of the many categories of indigenous minority peoples in Southeast Asia who have been recognized globally under the postcolonial political label of “Indigenous Peoples,” despite the epistemological problems inherent in designating some populations as “indigenous” in a region of (mostly) natives. The intersection of the colonial-era imperial fringe with postcolonial sites of “indigeneity” is no accident, given that today’s “Indigenous Peoples” are generally found in what have been considered “fringe” spaces since the region’s early modern period. I consider the potential significance of rethinking these spaces and histories as more than mere peripheries of colonies and empires, and reconceptualizing (and deliberately rewriting) them as unique spaces—and peoples—that coexisted and collaborated with the region’s economic and political centers and influenced their formation, yet somehow remained largely autonomous of them. In the process, I highlight the political persistence of Southeast Asia’s fringe spaces, and argue for (re)integrating such spaces and peoples into a fuller understanding of the region’s past.

This event is free and open to the public; a recording of the talk will be available on the CSEAS YouTube channel following the event.