Defining Decolonial Approaches

We seek to understand the full extent of the harm caused by the University of Michigan’s Philippine collections to Indigenous, Filipino, and Filipino American communities locally, in the Philippines, and in the diaspora, so that we can work collaboratively to tangibly repair the harm done in culturally-specific and historically-minded ways.

We are interested in discussing the interplay of Philippine indigeneity, Filipino diasporic identity in the U.S., and Philippine Studies, especially vis-à-vis their relationships to materials held at the University. Our goal is to forge a framework for the decolonization of the Philippine collections that takes into account the historical specificity of the Philippines and culturally inflected understandings of heritage, stewardship, and access. For this session, we invited Oona Paredes, Analyn “Ikin” Salvador-Amores, and Sarita Echavez See to engage with us on this conversation. We ask our speakers to reflect on the following questions:

  • We might begin by identifying various stages and ways that harm is caused by our collections (e.g., in the creation or acquisition of Philippine materials; in their stewardship, exhibition, or use; in what goes acknowledged or unacknowledged about their history, etc.). What, from your position and/or for your community, constitutes the harm caused by our Philippine collections?
  • We acknowledge that the answers to the above question may vary, so too then might the approaches to repairing harm. What would a reparative approach to harm look like from your location, or that of the communities you’re familiar with? What are the cultural protocols and knowledge frameworks that we should be mindful of? 
  • We recognize that these may not even be the best questions from which to depart, and welcome all and any input you might have. What other methods would you recommend for pursuing this project? How can we continue to engage you and the communities you represent?