Memory and nostalgia

"A particular kind of nostalgia, often found under imperialism, where people mourn the passing of what they themselves have transformed. Imperialist nostalgia thus revolves around a paradox: a person kills somebody and then mourns his or her victim." -- Renato Rosaldo, "Imperialist Nostalgia" (1989)


"There are lieux de mémoire, sites of memory, because there are no longer milieux de mémoire, real environments of memory." -- Pierre Nora, "Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire" (1989)


"Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims."-- Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (1992)

The Meanings of Marrow

Nerissa Balce

2014 Essay. Courtesy of the author.



Nerissa Balce

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Nerissa Balce was educated in the classrooms and museums of Manila and the libraries of Berkeley, California. She read feminist literature and poststructuralist theories in college and consequently ditched her plans to become a nun. She identifies as a mongrel academic – an Asian Americanist with a mixed (and questionable) pedigree: one who does a little bit of literature, theory, popular culture, diasporic and Philippine texts. If empires used various media to promote the romance of conquest, it makes sense to have an expansive approach to studying Filipino culture and the global Filipino diaspora. Her book, Body Parts of Empire: Visual Abjection, Filipino Images, and the American Archive (University of Michigan Press, 2016) "is a study of abjection in American visual culture and popular literature from the Philippine-American War (1899–1902)."

I’m a Filipino studies scholar interested in race, gender, empire and popular culture. Growing up in a Catholic culture and with the Marcos regime in power for decades, I am fascinated by the language of power, control and censorship. Individuals who grow up in post-authoritarian cultures react to power and politics in certain ways. We either accept control or violently reject it, or we negotiate with it in interesting (and sometimes silly) ways. And popular culture projects these negotiations. I think I never outgrew my interest in popular culture, whether it is from the turn of the 20th century or the early 21st century.


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  • Based: New York, USA