Reconstructing Mass Media Audiences in the Philippines: Notes on the Salvage of Archival Debris

Teilhard Paradela, University of British Columbia


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


This paper traces the intensification of the imperative for audience discipline in the Philippines by examining mass communication research, programs, and policies from the commonwealth period (1930s–1940s) to the Marcos regime (1960s–1980s).

Using the pioneering on “media exposure” in the early decades of the Philippine republic, this dissertation examines how the local elites imagined the audiences as belonging to— and thereby manifesting the existence of—a market, a public, and even a nation. Such performative imaginings had powerful implications on how the state engaged "the people" and how the people participated in national affairs as well as how they related to each other. The declaration of Martial Law in 1972 by then President Ferdinand Marcos pushed into stark relief the particular currency of knowing the audiences. As it took full control of the mass media, the state under Marcos wielded audience research to support the disciplining, in both its repressive and productive sense, of the people. At stake for the state was the sole power not only to communicate to the people but also to constitute them as audiences of Marcos’s spectacular dictatorship. By engaging what the author calls “archival debris,” the paper reflects on the challenges of archiving in the Philippines from environmental disasters to institutional indifference and their impact on collective memory, history making, and political action.

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