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Frontier Constitutions

Frontier Constitutions: Christianity and Colonial Empire in the Nineteenth-Century Philippines

John D. Blanco
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 390
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  • Book Info
    Frontier Constitutions
    Book Description:

    Frontier Constitutionsis a pathbreaking study of the cultural transformations arrived at by Spanish colonists, native-born creoles, mestizos (Chinese and Spanish), and indigenous colonial subjects in the Philippines during the crisis of colonial hegemony in the nineteenth century, and the social anomie that resulted from this crisis in law and politics. John D. Blanco argues that modernity in the colonial Philippines should not be understood as an imperfect version of a European model but as a unique set of expressions emerging out of contradictions-expressions that sanctioned new political communities formed around the precariousness of Spanish rule. Blanco shows how artists and writers struggled to synthesize these contradictions as they attempted to secure the colonial order or, conversely, to achieve Philippine independence.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94369-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Introduction: Political Communities, “Common Sense,” and the Colonial State
    (pp. 1-24)

    A series of reflections on the colonial genre of painting in the Philippines, pioneered by native (Indio) artist José Honorato Lozano in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, introduces this book on the entanglements of Christendom, Western enlightenment, and native tradition during the emergence of the modern colonial state. Identified under the category ofLetras y figuras(Letters and figures), each canvas is distinguished at first sight by the presentation of a phrase or name (usually the name of the patron who commissioned the work). On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that each letter is composed of figures...

  6. PART 1 Shibboleths

    • CHAPTER 1 Imperial Christendom and the Colonial State
      (pp. 27-63)

      A song transcribed by Augustinian priest Fr. Joaquín Martínez de Zúñiga in 1800 opens this chapter, which concerns the contradictory principles and motives behind the colonial state in the Philippines in the nineteenth century and the fictions ofnative consent,public good, andgeneral culturethat served to mitigate those contradictions. This labor song, according to Zúñiga, was passed around on the banks of the Baliwag River, which cuts through Bulacan hinterland, north of Manila, in the late eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries. Indigo dye was one of the first cash crops, along with tobacco, sugar, andabaca, or...

    • CHAPTER 2 Special Laws and States of Exception
      (pp. 64-94)

      In examining the writings of colonial officials in the late eighteenth century, one cannot but feel compelled by the strength of their reasons for the ambitious program of administrative and economic reform. Indeed, on a larger level, historians tend to see Bourbon reform, particularly under the administration of Carlos III, as consisting of eminently pragmatic changes to the complex and often self-contradictory mandates of what others have called “conflicting standards,” “flexible authority,” or “compromise government” overseas, not to mention on the Iberian Peninsula itself (see chapter 1). Yet, paradoxically, the “common sense” pragmatism of Bourbon reform led colonial officials in...

    • CHAPTER 3 Customs/(Ka)Ugali(an)
      (pp. 95-126)

      In chapters 1 and 2, we saw how the implementation of Bourbon reforms and the later administration of Special Laws illustrate the paradoxical double movement of colonial modernity in the Philippines: toward, on the one hand, the state’s attempted management of native consent to colonial rule and, on the other, toward the investment of the pastorate with the duties and responsibilities of the colonial state, which became a central feature in the establishment of a perpetual state of exception under the administration of Special Laws. This double movement helps to explain why modernity—often understood in the West in terms...

  7. PART 2 Projects

    • CHAPTER 4 Publics
      (pp. 129-156)

      The targeting of native consent as the basis of colonial rule in the archipelago and the attempt to reconcile this principle with the absorption of religious authority into the colonial state were part of the political rationality of Spain’s colonial policy concerning Special Laws and the political technology specific to it in the Philippines: the missionaries. As chapter 2 has shown, this resulted in a paradox. When the exceptional measures of ensuring colonial rule—that extreme recourse to “despotism in the last instance”—become the basis of the law itself, this reproduces the very arbitrary character of absolute authority that...

    • CHAPTER 5 Aesthetics
      (pp. 157-183)

      Throughout the nineteenth century, colonial reformers kept returning to the idea that the preservation of Spanish rule in the Philippines depended on a fundamental restructuring of colonial administration, which had to reconcile the solicitation and ramification of native consent to colonial rule with the threat of native and mestizo dissidence. Given that the average term for the highest office in the colonial government, that of captain-general, lasted only six years and that, moreover, many of these appointed governors in the nineteenth century did not complete their service, largely because of the unstable political conditions in Spain itself, colonial reform remained...

    • CHAPTER 6 Values/Norms
      (pp. 184-226)

      In many respects, the achievement of prosperity among the colonial state engineers of the late eighteenth century (proyectistas, as they were derisively called later) appeared close at hand throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. The 1868 opening of the Suez Canal cut the duration of transportation and communication between Spain and the Philippines by half and augured a period of increased and more direct contact between Europe and Asia. On the level of territorial security, the Spanish punitive expeditions to the Muslim sultanates in Mindanao and Jolo had met with overwhelming military success. Inside Luzon, a resurgence of...

  8. PART 3 Concatenations

    • CHAPTER 7 Gothic
      (pp. 229-270)

      Viewers in Manila who attended the unveiling of Juan Luna’sPacto de sangrein 1885 must have greeted the painting with some degree of surprise and perplexity: in the case of Wenceslao Retana, one of the most important figures of Spanish letters and journalism in the Philippines, the reaction was one of outright dismay (see figure 7).¹ Luna, a native-born Chinese mestizo who studied painting in Europe as well as the Philippines, had already earned renown for his work in Paris and Madrid, where one of his previous paintings,El spoliarium, had won prestigious awards in the 1884 Paris and...

  9. Epilogue: Colonialism and Modernity
    (pp. 271-286)

    Colonial officials, scholars, and writers of the nineteenth century were fond of relating or referring to a popular anecdote that circulated in Manila and its environs from about 1845 concerning the death and legacy of an extraordinary priest and scientist, Fray Manuel Blanco, O. S. A. Blanco was primarily recognized in the colonies for two achievements: first, he was a Tagalog “specialist,” ortagalista, responsible for writing and translating a number of works into the vernacular Tagalog. Chief among these works is a translation of French botanist Tissot’sAviso al Pueblo (Notice to the Public)into Tagalog.¹ Second, he was...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 287-336)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 337-358)
  12. Index
    (pp. 359-372)