November 19, 2002 – Vicente Rafael: “The Cell Phone and the Crowd: Messianic Politics in the Contemporary Philippines”

Tuesday, November 19|Oakes Mural Room|4:00 PM

Vicente Rafael, Professor of Department of Communication at UC San Diego, will give a talk titled “The Cell Phone and the Crowd: Messianic Politics in the Contemporary Philippines”. This talk explores the roles of the cell phone and the crowd as two related but distinct technics in conjuring up a kind of messianic politics during “People Power II,” the recent civilian led coup that ousted Joseph “Erap” Estrada from the presidency in January of 2001. It inquires into the ways by which a middle class politics of wishfulness comes to rest on the imagined capacities of technologies to communicate at a distance and call forth, as well as defer, the arrival of justice. Finally, it asks how the promise of telecommunication holds forth the possibility of momentarily flattening social hierarchy, a possibility simultaneously longed for and dreaded by those most anxious to chart the course of this promise. Prof. Rafael holds a Ph.D in history from Cornell University and has research interests in comparative colonialism, nationalism technology and modernity, and the politics and culture of the Philippines and Filipino Americans. His recent publications include White Love and the Other Events in Filipino History (Durham: Duke UP, 2000), Figures of Criminality in Indonesia, the Philippines and Colonial Vietnam (Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications, 1999), and Discrepant Histories: Traslocal Essays on Filipino Cultures (Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1999).