KRITIKA KULTURA LECTURE SERIES
COMMODIFIED FILIPINA VOICES OF THE EMPIRE, 1889-1920
lecture presented by Arwin Q. Tan, Ph.D.
last October 18, 2018 at the Ateneo De Manila University, SOM 111
About the Lecture:
This lecture interrogates the commodification of female theater vedettes in the Islands’ changing musical mode of production from the autonomous consumption of cultural performances in late nineteenth century theater productions to the introduction of recording technology in the early twentieth century. Situated within the shift in the Filipino’s colonial engagement from Spain to the USA, this study focuses on the political economy of music within the context of imperial capitalism, centering on the musical labor of Filipina vedettes. Imperative to capitalism was the premium given to competition which highlighted the star, the unquestionable representation of success measured by economic profit yielding from the patronage of a paying market. Realizing the lucrativeness of their position as stars, the female vedettes ventured into entrepreneurship that reproduced their cultural capital as they grappled with the idiosyncratic restrictions and prejudices imposed on them for being women. How did they defy the traditional patriarchal expectations of Manila’s colonial society as they exercised power in their participation in the cultural production that was constantly bounded by the limits of the ideologies of domesticity? How did their musical labor in the transforming musical mode of production negotiate for power and resolve the conflicts in the values of modernity, within the generally exploitative forces of capitalism and empire?