Article by Prof. Mary Racelis featured in Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints Journal


July 15, 2016


Siquijodnon Voices Speak to the Philippine Church: Rethinking Personhood in Culture
by Prof. Mary Racelis

Anthropologist Hannah C. M. Bulloch’s (2016) ethnographic account of the Siquijodnon understanding of when a fetus becomes a person adds significant new elements to the long-debated reproductive health (RH) question, when does life begin? Her research reveals that the women of Siquijor see personhood as evolving through a gradual process of bodily formation during pregnancy. Respondents affirm that the soul is infused at conception, while personhood “is made” gradually over time into a social being endowed with a capacity to live a life. In their view, ensoulment is important but not sufficient to produce a person. This processual understanding of the fetus’s personhood diverges significantly from the Catholic Church’s view of conception as the fixed, one-time moment when both ensoulment and personhood take place.

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