Indigenous Archaeology in the Philippines

Decolonizing Ifugao History

Stephen Acabado (Author), Marlon Martin (Author)
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Dominant historical narratives among cultures with long and enduring colonial experiences often ignore Indigenous histories. This erasure is a response to the colonial experiences. With diverse cultures like those in the Philippines, dominant groups may become assimilationists themselves. Collaborative archaeology is an important tool in correcting the historical record. In the northern Philippines, archaeological investigations in Ifugao have established more recent origins of the Cordillera Rice Terraces, which were once understood to be at least two thousand years old. This new research not only sheds light on this UNESCO World Heritage site but also illuminates how collaboration with Indigenous communities is critical to understanding their history and heritage.

Indigenous Archaeology in the Philippines highlights how collaborative archaeology and knowledge co-production among the Ifugao, an Indigenous group in the Philippines, contested (and continue to contest) enduring colonial tropes. Stephen B. Acabado and Marlon M. Martin explain how the Ifugao made decisions that benefited them, including formulating strategies by which they took part in the colonial enterprise, exploiting the colonial economic opportunities to strengthen their sociopolitical organization, and co-opting the new economic system. The archaeological record shows that the Ifugao successfully resisted the Spanish conquest and later accommodated American empire building.

This book illustrates how descendant communities can take control of their history and heritage through active collaboration with archaeologists. Drawing on the Philippine Cordilleran experiences, the authors demonstrate how changing historical narratives help empower peoples who are traditionally ignored in national histories.
“This book advances knowledge about the Ifugao landscape and Ifugao responses to European colonialism in the Philippines, and it is a groundbreaking contribution in its blend of research and community engagement through a participatory archaeology that involves Ifugao people and perspectives.” ―Christopher B. Rodning, co-editor of Fort San Juan and the Limits of Empire: Colonialism and Household Practice at the Berry Site

“Acabado and Martin provide a welcome addition to the literature on colonialism and archaeology in the early modern/modern world. The book is about decolonizing Indigenous landscapes and the habitus of Ifugao as they co-opted nonterritorial forms of governance. As an archaeology, it is particularly timely, giving complexity and nuance to aspirations and concerns, including collaborative research designs, ‘slow archaeology,’ and useable pasts.”―Mark W. Hauser, Northwestern University

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