Archive for the 'history' Category

Imperialist History and Muslim Mindanao

AFP in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao

Michael Hawkins writes about U.S. imperialist history of Muslim Mindanao in the southern region of the Philippines.  He wrote that the Americans:

‘believed they could explore and conquer this space through translation: establishing correspondence could make the unknown and the strange knowable’. (Hawkins, 413)

In order to subjectify the Muslim regions the U.S. took part in an imperialist history for itself to justify its actions and also negotiated with area leaders and split up the region into different administrations and also classified the peoples among “biological” lines.

Many liberals in the United States also used Moro slavery as an excuse to invade and “civilize” Muslim Mindanao:

The problem, however, was that ‘slavery’ in the Philippines failed to conform to many of the Americans’ contemporary or historic notions of the institution.  (420)

But, at the same time, a complex servitude system in Mindanao:

risked compromising the Moros’ ‘primitiveness’ and the indefinite nature of the colonial project…(422)

Overall, this complex American imperialist history of Muslim Mindanao postulated:

imperialism as a necessary evil…address[ing] all of the inherently disruptive and disturbing aspects of imperial rule while simultaneously maintaining the accepted inevitability of historicist transition that legitimated colonial possession.  It was here, somewhere between the ‘ends’ and the ‘means’, that American imperialists in Mindanao and Sulu wrestled with their imperial subjects, and with themselves, over the meaning and consequences of imperial historicism. (428)

One can see a parallel with this and many liberals and conservatives in America wrestling with the issues of Iraq.  There are competing histories of the invasion, it was for oil, it was for power, it was did get rid of a tyrant, to empower the Shi’as, to spread democracy, etc.  One of the consequences is that even opponents of the war no see “a need” for America to stay in Iraq in order for the “inevitable historicist transition” of a freer Iraq to take place.

Oh, and by the way, the U.S. military is still occupying Mindanao after all these years.



Hawkins, Michael.  “Imperial historicism and American military rule in the Philippines’ Muslim south.”  Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 39, no. 3 (October, 2008): 411-29.

Jewish Resistance to Zionism

Free Derry/Free Gaza

Prophets Outcast and Wrestling with Zion are the products of a specific historical moment.  They carry with them a sense of urgency as they respond to the particular political circumstances that evolved following the eruption of the second intifada.  While they do not explicitly say so, one of the major objectives of both compilations is to counter a potent political weapon that has been utilized consistently over the past five years to silence criticism of Israel, namely, the claim that any condemnation of Israel amounts to anti-Semitism.  Yet, unlike Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Claire’s book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism (AK Press, 2003), which challenges this malicious weapon head on, the editors of Prophets Outcast and Wrestling with Zion adopt a different, more subtle and richer strategy that allows them simultaneously to take part in the political and ideologicalal fray that developed after the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada and to transcend it.  (Gordon, 103)


Gordon, Neve.  “Jewish Resistance to Zionism,” Journal of Palestine Studies 35, no. 1 (Autumn, 2005): 103-105).

Kushner, Tony and Alisa Solomon, eds.  Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.  New York: Grove Press, 2003.

Shatz, Adam, ed.  Prophets Outcast: A Century of Dissident Jewish Writing about Zionism and Israel.  New York: Nation Books, 2004.


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