Accepted paper:

Early colonial Manila in global history


Ellen Hsieh (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the colonial lives in the Manila area under early modern global history. By examining daily consumption in archaeological sites, especially Spanish Intramuros and Chinese Parián, this paper aims to develop a postcolonial viewpoint to rethink the colonialism in Spanish Manila.

Paper long abstract:

This paper seeks to elucidate the nature of power relationships between the Chinese, the Spaniards, and the indigenous Tagalog during the early Spanish colonial period (late 16th century to 17th century) in the Manila area by studying the archaeological evidence of consumption. The major ethnic groups of colonial Manila - the Spaniards, the indigenous Tagalog, and the Chinese - formed a specific urban landscape of the colony. The Spaniards lived in "Intramuros" (the Walled City), the Chinese were assigned to live in "Parián", and the Tagalog occupied the remaining area. Previous historical studies have constructed these three groups as parallel but distinct societies. However, such separations are problematic because they ignore the complexity of inter- and intra- group relationships within the colonial society. Following the arguments of Homi Bhabha, postcolonial theory treats colonialism as a creolization, a hybridity, or an entanglement of multi-cultures in multi-aspects. This ongoing archaeology project aims to reevaluate the power relationship in Manila through a consumption theory viewpoint. By re-contextualizing archaeological data (evidences of habitas of consumption) carefully in multiple scales, the consumptions of various materials of different groups would shed light on the agency of different categories of people under the structure of each colonial context. The preliminary analysis of excavated materials from sites in Manila area is showing that archaeology offers an alternative perspective of colonial history in Manila. This project will be an important reference with regards to interaction between the traditional oversea Chinese and Islamic networks and the incoming European networks.

panel P21
Exploring the Archaeology of Everyday Living in Southeast Asia