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Title: When the Provenance speaks : memories of martial law in the Philippines through photographs
Authors: Buenrostro, Iyra Sibucao
Keywords: DRNTU::Library and information science::Knowledge management
Issue Date: 2019
Source: Buenrostro, I. S. (2019). When the Provenance speaks : memories of martial law in the Philippines through photographs. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: This study examines the potential of photographs as performative agents of evidence and memory in building a people’s archives. Based on literature and practice, the potential of photographs is not fully maximized as they are always secondary to textual records in most historical inquiries and are often sidelined by the traditional archival concepts and practices. By using the case of the photographs taken during the regime of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, this study demonstrates the reactivation and use of these photographs in the stimulation of individual memories that can contribute to a more nuanced discussion and understanding of martial law period in the Philippines. Drawing on Verne Harris’ notion of hospitality, I propose three strands of hospitality to be done inside and outside of the archives that can help build a people’s archives – welcoming different record formats, specifically photographs; welcoming different voices, especially those coming from the margins; and welcoming strategies to proactively bring archives closer to the people. In developing this study using the proposed three strands of hospitality, I employed photo elicitation and open-ended interviews (from 2015-2017) with Filipino photographers who documented this era, the photographs’ subjects and eyewitnesses, archivists, historians, and symbolic entrepreneurs. These are the members of the ‘re-conceptualized’ provenance, appropriating Tom Nesmith’s societal provenance and Jeanette Bastian’s co-creatorship of records. The photographs’ provenance shared their stories, experiences, and insights on the social conditions within which the photographs were produced and circulated, as well as the possible use of photographs in progressing public’s historical consciousness through preservation, pedagogy, and storytelling. The photographs of the Marcos regime and the stories that come with them serve as evidence of injustices and inequalities that prevailed during the regime, which have continued even after Marcos’ rule. As memory sites, these photographs are instrumental in recounting not only the provenance’s painful memories and their stories of survival, but also in realizing their and other people’s courage and unity, certain manifestations of Filipino culture and political psychology, and ways to address the current and persisting problems in Philippine society. The study’s findings strengthen the potential of photographs to act as evidence and memory sites – or spaces that unfold the continuities and discontinuities of the past to the present, and conjure the people’s knowledge, memories, feelings, and experiences of the events and people documented. Moreover, this study shows that listening to the provenance is both a contextualization method and an act of bearing witness to the people in the margins whose voices are usually silenced. This study therefore suggests that this memory work in building a people’s archives involving photographs and provenance humanizes the traditionally impassive and ‘neutral’ archives. The work of archivists may not completely eradicate ignorance and prevent another form of dictatorship, but I argue that this method of looking, or rather, ‘listening’ to the memories and stories evoked by photographs can be employed in different settings to further challenge the status quo that widens the gap between the powerful and powerless; to respond to the call of justice; and to protect the people from the increasing apathy and unresponsiveness to people’s struggles.
DOI: 10.32657/10220/47850
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:WKWSCI Theses

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