The City as Nation: Nick Joaquin’s Manila, My Manila as Nationalist History

Hidde Van der Wall

DOI: https://test.crossref.org/

Abstract

This article discusses Nick Joaquin’s Manila, My Manila (1989/1999) as an example of how his historiographical work tends to be more conventional in terms of the nationalism that dominates Philippine historiography, and has a more complex relationship to this discourse than existing analyses tend to suggest. While his veneration of the Spanish colonial period is indeed unconventional, his book leaves the main problem of nationalist discourse untouched as it maintains the essentialist notion of an identifiable national community projected backwards into time. The book fails to capitalize on the potential for disrupting national paradigms that city narratives offer. Rather than breaking up narratives of nationalism, it creates a new one, homogenizing Philippine history around a linear history of the city. It imagines Manila as the continuously endangered seed of the nation, which miraculously overcomes the multitude of threats thrown its way. While the narrative glosses over the inherent diversity of the nation, it also exposes an essentialist, teleological, and metaphysical historical vision. The ambiguity of Joaquin’s vision, and of his relationship with the tradition of Philippine historiography, then, lies in his outward rejection of the essentialism inherent to nationalist notions on the one hand, and the determinism governing his homogenizing narratives on the other.

Keywords

colonialism, historiography, History of Manila, nationalism, Philippine literature, postcolonial memory

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)