Joyce L Tolliver

Spanish & Portuguese

Family Troubles: Spain and the Philippines in the Late Modern Empire

Colonialist discourse of the nineteenth-century Spanish empire often referred to colonies as “overseas provinces” and employed a metaphor of family relations. Yet within the context of the Spanish empire, the case of the Philippines, which was markedly different from that of the South American and Caribbean colonies, called into question the racial, linguistic, and religious bases of these supposed family ties.

Three hundred years of Spanish colonial presence left the Philippines’ cultural profile virtually intact: at the nineteenth century’s end, less than five percent of the population understood Spanish; unlike the sixteenth-century Muslims of what is now southern Spain, the Muslims living in the archipelago did not convert to Catholicism, nor did the Chinese or Igorot populations; and racial heterogeneity was much less influenced by Spanish colonization compared with Latin America.

During her Center appointment, Professor Tolliver will undertake close readings of Spanish and Filipino texts, with particular attention to marks of linguistic perspective and to the rhetorical uses of metaphors of family. She will examine representations of the colonial Philippine situation in short texts by Emilia Pardo Bazán, works of Wenceslao Retana y Gamboa, and other peninsular writers, contrasting them with the discourses on race, gender, and nationhood in the essays and novels of José Rizal, Pedro Paterno’s foundational Philippine novel, Ninay, and essays by Graciano López Jaena and Isabelo de los Reyes.

Ultimately, her project addresses the question of how “dysfunctional” family relations in the Spanish-Philippine colonial arrangement were portrayed in the late-nineteenth-century Spanish press and literature, and in the Spanish-language writings of the Philippine anti-colonialists.