Accepted Paper:

Embodying cosmopolitanism: dance heritage, music videos, and the embrace of global imaginaries in Sulu and Zamboanga  


Jose Jowel Canuday (Ateneo de Manila University )

Paper short abstract:

The paper builds around the analytical frame of actually existing cosmopolitanism and the phenomenological paradigm of embodiment in understanding the bodily ways in which marginal Muslim communities in southern Philippines sustained a performance heritage by embracing hybridity.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation examines the notion of embodied cosmopolitanism in live and video compact discs (VCD) versions of pangalay, a celebrated dance-musical heritage of Tausug-speaking Muslims in southern Philippines. Engaging analytically with the Csordasian paradigm of embodiment and drawing contextually from a yearlong ethnographic fieldwork in the area, the paper illustrates how pangalay performers and video producers of Sulu and Zamboanga expropriate and recast globally drifting Hollywood, Bollywood, Southeast Asian, and European musical and terpsichorean imaginaries into locally familiar performing heritage. Usually performed in spirited wedding and religious festivities, trans-culturally imbued pangalay performances have been woven into the fabric of Tausug sociality thus rendering local community gatherings a bodily-animated cosmopolitan affair. Such practice offers a critical lens in thinking about an actually existing form of cosmopolitanism that does not necessarily articulate the cosmopolitan ideals of flexibility, adaptability, and openness through abstract and cerebral discourses but rather kinesthetically performed within the context of everyday life.

Furthermore, the paper locates the pangalay within a habitus of trans-local exchanges that had historically engendered the kindred and performative connection of Tausug communities to the old but broader world of maritime Southeast Asia. Although the rise of the imagined communities of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and of market-led globalization reconfigured the old power, social, and economic relations of the maritime world, the age-old practice of melding, remaking, and indigenization of trans-local performances have actually endured. Meaningfully, they evince a portrait of a community that sustains a heritage by embracing and embodying globally diverse cultural imaginaries.

Panel W036
Vernacular cosmopolitanisms in an age of anxiety