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Alejo, Albert E. (1999) Generating energies: Cultural politics and geothermal project in Mt Apo Philippines. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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THIS REFLEXIVE ETHNOGRAPHY investigates both the practice of cultural regeneration movement and fieldwork engagement in the context of contested development. The setting is Mt. Apo National Park where the Philippine National Oil Company has built a 250-megawatt geothermal power plant. The project aims to reduce government's dependence on imported oil and fuel its industrialisation program. Mt. Apo, however, is an ecologically and politically sensitive site, being a sanctuary of Southeast Asia's rich biodiversity, home to indigenous peoples, and shelter for armed insurgents. The local NGO and Church opposition grew into a massive national and international protest. Despite the hesitant hospitality of the affected community, PNOC managed to transform its image into a corporate environmentalist and pursue its project. This thesis explores the interaction among the various contextual actors, including social scientists and the sick, the pastors, priests and protesters. It also analyses the politicisation of rituals and the construction of advocacy in Europe. My main focus, however, is the kin-based movement called Tuddok. Tuddok aimed at cultural regeneration and territorial recognition. It emerged, apparently, from the failure of both development project and political protest to take seriously the predicament of the host community. Cultural politics research rightly treats this type of movement not simply as resistance, but as struggle for meaning and existence. Even recent literature, however, still equates movement with protest. I highlight, instead, what may be called cultural energies-the human capabilities by which people collectively re-animate themselves in face of, but not exhaustively in reaction to, political binary oppositions. My fieldwork (September 1995-January 1997) consisted mostly in accompanying Tuddok from its revival of Manobo dance, to its retrieval of Mt. Apo history and territory. As Tuddok became central to my research, my research in turn served as resource for the movement. This partnership grew tense as the ethnographer's status as Catholic priest allegedly threatened the peace of the Protestant village. The last section of the thesis reflects on the practice of fieldwork as social intervention before it is transformed into a textual invention.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:03

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