Paper

Haunting, Imagined Records, and Indigenous Intergenerational Memory

Isabel Carlin, University of British Columbia

Panel

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

Abstract

Using archival theories of haunting and imagination, this project examines the imagined harp of the author’s Indigenous grandmother, which functions as a personal and political record in the northern Philippines. It seeks to answer the question: What is archived and what is not archived in/about Indigenous communities in the northern Philippines, and how does this parallel the absence of the imagined harp as record? Political theories of haunting use ghosts, which are materially absent but deeply felt, such as the sociological “ghost” of imperialism or the more literal ghost of an ancestor passed, to uncover the affective dimensions of political violence and oppression. Like haunting, imagined archival theory also reckons with political violence, by surfacing human rights issues and desires for unattained perspectives and justice through imagined or impossible records. The political implications of this imagined harp as a record will be uncovered through participatory research based on Indigenous methodologies of relationality, with the aim of understanding this harp in the context of Indigenous political resistance against sustained state terror. Building on the political activism and worldviews of Indigenous communities in the northern Philippines, theories of imagined archives, and the phenomenon of haunting, this project politicizes personal archival records and leverages archival theories to serve Indigenous intergenerational memory. This project contributes to a history of Indigenous political resistance in the northern Philippines and offers a political intervention in critical archival theory.

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