Laws and modernity to be discussed in Cordillera conference

A PREVIEW of the topics to be delivered by the keynote speaker and plenary speakers in the 2nd International Conference on Cordillera Studies have been issued by the Cordillera Studies Center, research arm of the University of the Philippines Baguio and organizer of the conference.

The conference will open on July 12 with Dr. Albert Bacdayan’s keynote address on the topic “High Road to the Mainstream: Indigenous Studies and the Igorots of the Cordillera Administrative Region.”

A retired professor of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky, Bacdayan will examine the notion of indigenous studies in the context of the idea that “generating and expanding knowledge and understanding of cultures is driven by the situation where these cultures are at the cusp of disappearance due to assault by modernizing influence from the outside.”

Currently the chairman of the Igorot Scholarship Program (ISP), Bacdayan will look into the indigenous studies field in relation to the Igorots of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) who are marginalized, demeaned and misunderstood as others in the national settings.

“Indigenous studies has humanitarian, scientific and policy implications,” Bacdayan said.

“These implications, in turn, could go a long way towards smoothing the path of indigenous groups like the Igorots towards meaningful and fulfilling participation in the mainstream.”

The second day of the conference will have Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen as plenary speaker.

His talk will delve on the question, “Does the Law Reflect or Shape Who We Are? The Legibility of Identity and Culture in Contemporary Readings of the Constitution.”

The youngest of the 15 justices of the high court, Justice Leonen’s topic follows his interest in indigenous studies having authored a number of academic papers and books on indigenous people’s rights, community development and ecological sustainability.

Justice Leonen’s talk will also draw on his extensive experience as chief government peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court in 2012.

Dr. Deirdre McKay, senior lecturer in Social Geography and Environmental Politics at the University of Keele, United Kingdom will close the conference with a plenary talk on “Being Ifesbukan: Indigenous Studies in the Age of Social Media.”

McKay will examine the ways indigenous people practice their culture in the digital age. Drawing on her research with the Kankana-ey Igorots in London, she submits Filipino indigenous migrants use online platforms to strengthen their culture, extend their networks, keep up their ritual life, organize opposition to attempts to dispossess them, and invest in futures back home.

She said that while abroad, Filipinos sustain their cultural practices by coming up with mediated versions of these. McKay said these Igorot migrants call themselves “Ifesbukan.” She explains rather than “attenuating their identification as Igorot, migration intensifies their commitment to practice their indigenous culture.”

McKay says this takes place in a “socially mediated world” where a “new ethics of global connection” could be mapped. (Roland Rabang)