Alternative Becomings, Alternative Belongings: Cordillera Case Studies of Records in Context

Lara Maestro, Master of Archival Studies and Library and Information Studies Graduate, University of British Columbia


Postscripts from the Pacific: Reflections on Archival Research into Cultural Memory, Historical Trauma, and Political Struggle in the Philippines


The creation, maintenance, transmission, and preservation of knowledge over time is common to human cultures around the world. Knowledge-keeping practices differ based on social and cultural context, and can take a variety of forms, including the oral, the embodied, and the written word. This paper considers two examples of knowledge-keeping mechanisms—the bodong and Cordillera Day— in order to determine community-based approaches to the subjects of the record and the archives: the bodong system and Cordillera Day. It provides an analysis of how the bodong, an Indigenous socio-political system used in the Kalinga province of the Philippines, functions as a record among the Basao, Butbut, and Tanglag tribes. It also provides an analysis of how Cordillera Day, an annual political and cultural event bringing together the various Indigenous tribes in the Cordillera region of Luzon, functions as a living archive. This exploration was conducted using unstructured interviews, participant observation, and content analysis during fieldwork conducted in the Cordillera region of the Philippines, primarily in Kalinga province. The study concludes that the bodong and Cordillera Day function in such a way that they are analogous to established archival definitions of the archive and the record, but that they do not need to be understood as such by the community in order to be useful or successful. Further, this thesis finds that the recordkeeping practices of these Indigenous communities is inextricably linked with political struggles for the defence of ancestral lands and for self-determination.

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