I am a cultural anthropologist specialising in the ethnographic and historical study of Mindanao, in particular its non-Muslim indigenous (Lumad) population. I am interested in the cultural and historical intersections of religion, politics, and identity, especially the ways in which minority “tribal” peoples interact with state power, whether in peace or violence.
To date I have worked primarily with the Higaunon Lumad of northern Mindanao, but I am keenly interested in all the Lumad groups. My long-term goal is to delve further into the comparable experiences of other upland groups elsewhere in Southeast Asia, such as the Iban and other Dayak groups of Borneo. Come talk to me if you are interested in studying Mindanao or Borneo!
However, my most recent work was archival and ethnohistorical, studying the extensive colonial-era cooperation between Iberian missionaries and the ancestors of today’s Lumad. I am finishing the final touches to my (first) book, A Mountain of Difference: The Lumad in Early Colonial Mindanao (Ithaca: Cornell SEAP, In Press), in which I write about the cultural imprint of colonialism on what are still widely regarded as “pre-colonial” Lumad traditions. I still have many unprocessed materials from the Spanish archives – for any students who might be interested in archival work.
I was born and raised in the Philippines, and am a native of Misamis Oriental province in Mindanao. After high school in Manila, I moved with my family to Honolulu where I studied Anthropology and History at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. I then pursued graduate studies in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at Arizona State University, completing my Ph.D. in 2008. My doctoral research was supported by a major grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and research fellowships from the Escuela de Estudios Hispanoamericanos, the Newberry Library, and the Vatican Film Library. I have also been a Graduate Research Fellow of the U.S. National Science Foundation (1995-1998), and an American Fellow of the American Association of University Women (2009-2010).