IPC VRA lecture by Jorge Bayona on “Inherited Destinies, phantom limbs: Empire, settler colonialism, and trauma in the Philippines and Peru”


February 8, 2018



The lecturer proposes that territorial claims over contested peripheral areas by Peru and the Philippines can be understood through the lens of a kind of discourse called “inherited destiny.” This label addresses two aspects of the rhetoric used by the elites of Peru and the Philippines to uphold their territorial claims: 1) these are inherited because the sole title over these contested territories were derived from claims made by Spain, thus rendering colonial frontier regions as their inheritance; and 2) they are a destiny because despite the absence of effective control over the territory or cultural commonality with the peoples of such areas, ruling elites felt that it was their historical entitlement to assimilate them. The lecturer studies how these elites tried to work through the contradictions inherent to this discourse, as the lands and peoples they claimed existed in two opposite states: they were simultaneously “already owned” and “yet to be conquered.” There is also a dimension of collective trauma to these claims, as successfully securing these territories and subjecting them to settler colonialism would potentially “repair” the humiliations they had suffered during the wars with Chile and the United States a generation or two before. Furthermore, global industrial capitalism encouraged these countries to “defend” these rubber-producing areas from the threat of territorial dispossession. Nevertheless, despite differing motivations and anti-imperial rhetoric, the lecturer argues that these were still imperial projects, albeit under new management. This study seeks to add the concept of inherited destiny as another layer to the processes of occupation and colonization of indigenous lands and peoples by non-European or non-North American metropoles in areas as far afield as Southeast Asia and Latin America. It also seeks to contribute to the debates on empire and settler colonialism, collective trauma, and nationalist irredentism. 

About the lecturer

Jorge Bayona is a Ph.D Candidate in History by the University of Washington, Seattle, and is currently affiliated with the Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manila University and the Third World Studies Center, University of Philippines Diliman. He has taught at the University of Washington and at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas.