Contracting Colonialism

Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society Under Early Spanish Rule

Contracting Colonialism

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: Published: November 1992

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian Studies > Southeast Asia, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In an innovative mix of history, anthropology, and post-colonial theory, Vicente L. Rafael examines the role of language in the religious conversion of the Tagalogs to Catholicism and their subsequent colonization during the early period (1580–1705) of Spanish rule in the Philippines. By tracing this history of communication between Spaniards and Tagalogs, Rafael maps the conditions that made possible both the emergence of a colonial regime and resistance to it. Originally published in 1988, this new paperback edition contains an updated preface that places the book in theoretical relation to other recent works in cultural studies and comparative colonialism.


“An innovative and fascinating interpretation of the early Spanish period. . . . His focus on translation and conversion makes his book of great value not only to Philippine historians but also to scholars interested in the role of language in history. This study is a work that deserves to be read and reread carefully.” — Bruce L. Fenner , American Historical Review

"Students of colonial discourse will welcome Rafael's insightful exegeses of the texts he analyzes. . . . The book is beautifully written, intelligent ethnohistory that will serve as a much-needed model for similar studies." — J. Jorge Klor de Alva , American Anthropologist

"This is a significant, original, and engaging book that should find an audience among those concerned with colonialism, discourse, and ideology." — Renato Rosaldo, Stanford University


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Vicente L. Rafael is Professor of History at the University of Washington. He is the author of The Promise of the Foreign: Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines and White Love and Other Events in Filipino History, both also published by Duke University Press.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1341-0
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