Friday, March 30, 2007

Pre-colonial Philippine Politics of Succession

How funny. Contrary to recycled knowledge circulating in our collective memories, History doesn't repeat itself. It does, however, cast a looong shadow.

While doing research on an entirely different subject, I stumbled across this passage in Laura Lee-Junker's Raiding, Trading and Feasting: The Political Economy of Philippine Chiefdoms:

Adding to the chaos of kingly and chiefly succession in some regions of Southeast Asia was a pronounced mythology of folk heroism in which ordinary individuals rise up and rebel against a tyrannical leader and usurp political power...

Southeast Asian ideologies often left the door open for ordinary individuals, through revelation or the acquisition of sacred objects, to acquire spiritual power that could often lead to a kind of popular messianic rebellion (Andaya and Ishii 1992: 551).

While the construction of a strong military was critical to protecting a ruler’s economic activities (particularly for controlling trade and launching plunder-aimed raiding expeditions), members of the warrior-elite often were able to garner significant wealth and establish independent power bases through their close association with elite patrons (K. Hall 1992: 260) and ultimately to threaten the latter’s hegemony.

Lee-Junker, Laura . Raiding, Trading & Feasting : The Political Economy of Philippine Chiefdoms. Honolulu, HI, USA: University of Hawaii Press, 1999. p 64.

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