Imperfect Sacrifice: The Ethical Crisis in the Novels and Vernacular Political Theologies of Transimperial Philippines (1890-1946)


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The abrupt imperial changeover of the 1898 Spanish-American War radically reconfigured the Philippine imaginary as competing visions of political community—Spanish Catholic, Creole Tagalog and Anglo-American Protestant—induced a conflicted ethics of social belonging and made twentieth-century Philippines the inadvertent scene of revivified Reformation polemics. Offering the first trilingual literary-intellectual history of this epistemic shift, this project investigates how the sacrificial discourse in literature and philosophy became the site of competing visions for the ideal social relation in the emerging archipelagic state. It reads the novels of the Americanized twentieth century as the formal afterlives of the revolutionary political theologies of the Hispanicized nineteenth century, tracing the ideological translations that occurred in the formulation of the Philippine sense of self and the social contract. Examining how Filipino writers reimagined their changing, transimperial milieu, it ultimately presents a rerouting of global intellectual history as encountered by the crisis of modern Philippine ethics.