Babaylan Sing Back: Philippine Shamans on Voice, Gender, and Transnationalism

Nono, Grace (2014) Babaylan Sing Back: Philippine Shamans on Voice, Gender, and Transnationalism. Doctoral thesis, New York University.

Full text not available from this repository.


The five centuries of babaylan-related literature from a wide range of historical and/or ethnographic sources—some polemical; others, valorizing—reflects the sustained scholarly and popular interest in the babaylan (Philippine shamans). This widely heterogeneous literature, however, has bred some misunderstandings symptomatic not only of discursive difference and disciplinary estrangement but a deep social alienation inaugurated by the histories of colonization that continues to divide Filipinos. These misunderstandings include the babaylans' blanket associations with malevolence and/or ignorance; their elimination by colonization, hence, their relegation to the past; their homogenization reflective of nationalist maneuverings; their idealization as symbols of gender power, and of gender relationships in the babaylans' communities of operation as generally complementary and egalitarian; their geographic incarceration within the homeland's boundaries. Based on encounters with three babaylan from different parts of the Philippines and the Philippine diaspora whose oral performances and life stories are put in conversation with selected issues of voice, gender, and transnationalism, this dissertation posits the following. First, the babaylan survived the histories of colonization and continue to serve as beneficent healers and priestesses/priests of Philippine indigenous religions. Second, the babaylan have carried on with widely heterogeneous practices and names despite nationalist maneuverings to flatten difference. Third, the babaylan suffer from marginalization on grounds of class, religion, geographic location, and gender as women or as feminized men, even as they continue to find ways to subvert subjection. Finally, the dissertation reports on the incipient transnational condition of the babaylans' religion. Singing back, in this dissertation's perspective, is an act of clarifying babaylan representations borne out of alienation. As such, it is also an act of healing, restoring, and forging of relationships. The babaylan, themselves, are constituted by relationships with humans and spirits, Filipinos and foreign nationals; relationships made audible by their voices in performance. Listening to and/or joining the babaylan sing back with their relational voices contribute not only to bridging the various forms of alienation, but to jointly contesting the forces of domination.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: babaylan, cultural performance, cultural performance history, diaspora, music, Philippine history
Depositing User: Machine Whisperer
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2017 05:50
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2017 05:50

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item