Ateneo to host conference on Asian-Iberian Relations

April 30, 2021

As 2021 progresses, various cultural, historical, and government institutions are marking the five hundredth anniversary of the landing of the Magellan expedition on the Philippines-to-be. Whether as the establishment of Christianity in the Philippines, as the native victory at Mactan, or as the European circumnavigation of the globe, 1521 was a momentous year whose impact, events, and origins are worth examining today.

The Ateneo de Manila University's School of Humanities, in cooperation with CHAM–NOVA FCSH, or the Centro de Humanidades of the Faculdade de Ciencias Sociais e Humanas of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, and with the endorsement of the Quincentennial Committee of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, is organizing a four-part international conference called “Contacts and Continuities: 500 Years of Asian-Iberian Relations.” To be held online from June 23 to July 23 2021, the conference takes as its theme the engagements between Spain and Portugal on the one hand and the various polities in Asia, especially the Philippines, on the other, and emphasizes their continuing relations.  Moreover, while the Philippines will be the principal focus, a number of panels will consider comparative perspectives across three regions: Europe, Asia, and the Americas, tracing global cultural flows enabled by the Galleon Trade. A few papers examine experiences elsewhere in Asia, like Macau, Malaysia, China, and Japan.

Over seventy scholars and artists from around the world will be participating in the month-long conference. The keynote speakers are Rene B. Javellana, SJ, Barbara Watson Andaya, Vicente L. Rafael, and Javier Ruescas. Paulo Jorge de Sousa Pinto and Ambeth Ocampo will open and close the four-part conference, respectively.

The topics are clustered around four themes, the “legacies” of the fateful contact started five hundred years ago: seafaring and trade, ideas and identity formation, institutions, and forms of expression. A special panel with filmmakers Kidlat Tahimik from Baguio and Pedro Palma from Lisbon, New York-based writer Luis Francia, and Malaysian artist and sculptor Ahmad Fuad Osmadon on their representations of Enrique de Malacca will also be held.

“Contacts and Continuities: 500 Years of Iberian-Asian Relations” promises to illuminate the conditions that enabled such intercultural encounters as befell the Iberian Peninsula and Asia, the technics and knowledge that underpin and spring from these encounters, and the many new or hybrid identities, products, and signifying practices that such encounters effected.

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