Dr Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz
Originally from the Philippines, I am a Research Fellow at Clare Hall, Supervisor in World History, and the Executive Director of the Toynbee Prize Foundation. Immediately prior, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. I earned my Ph.D. in Southeast Asian and International History at Yale University. My broad research interests centre on global intellectual history and Southeast Asian environmental, cultural, and social history. My current research analyses the co-constitution of class and relationships with the natural environment over the 19th to the 20th centuries in the Philippines.
My first book, Asian Place, Filipino Nation: A Global Intellectual History of the Philippine Revolution, 1887-1912, published by Columbia University Press in June 2020, charts the emplotment of ‘place’ in the proto-national thought and revolutionary organising of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Filipino thinkers. It analyses how their Pan-Asian political organising and their constructions of the place of ‘Asia’ and of the spatial registers of race/Malayness connected them to their regional neighbours undertaking the same work. Asian Place, Filipino Nation unearths precisely what ground the Philippine nation has built itself upon intellectually, excavating its neglected cosmopolitan and transnational Asian and Malay moorings in particular, in order to reconnect modern Philippine history to that of Southeast and East Asia, from which it has been historiographically separated.
Asian Place, Filipino Nation interrogates this period’s Southeast Asian reformulation and practice of Pan-Asianism and Malay Asianism in the face of Western imperial consolidation and the rise of Japan, focusing on the Philippine case but with an eye to the contemporaneous Vietnamese one. It incorporates the “periphery” into our understanding of Pan-Asianism and aims to correct our exclusively intellectual historical and Northeast-Asia-centric understandings of Pan-Asianism. It shows that the revolutionary First Philippine Republic’s foreign collaboration represents the first instance of fellow Pan-Asianists lending material aid toward anti-colonial revolution against a Western power (rather than overthrow of a domestic dynasty) and harnessing transnational Pan-Asian networks of support, activism, and association toward doing so. This material dimension is crucial to understanding the Pan-Asianism of the colonised “periphery” and to incorporating the periphery into this history. So too is the affective dimension, in which fantasies, imagination, and a certain emotionality formed much of the periphery’s engagement with the model of Meiji-era Japan and Asian solidarity. Asian Place, Filipino Nation argues for the importance of both dimensions as lenses through which the Pan-Asianism of the periphery can be recognised and made legible to the workings of the “centre.”
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