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In Session: [Infra]structured Realities: Interrogating Modern Science & Technology in the Philippines
1: Communication as Discipline in the Twentieth-Century Philippines
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
University of British Columbia, Canada
As the Philippines transitioned from being a commonwealth to a republic in the first half of the twentieth century, local elites began using the “audience” as a discrete category of analysis. This development emerged as a response, in part, to the revitalization of the media structures and practices after World War II. But what made possible the efforts to measure and classify audiences was a new social science discipline founded and developed in the United States. Mass Communication Research provided local Philippine elites with methods, concepts, and paradigms for knowing audiences.
This presentation charts the appropriation of this particular discipline in the Philippines by examining the bibliography compiled by librarian Emelinda de Jesus. Mass Communication Research in the Philippines (1973), which contains over a thousand entries, offers the most comprehensive index of research output in the country on this topic. As such, it represents a comprehensive intellectual infrastructure underpinning conceptions and deployments of this category from the 1950s to the 1970s and most especially, during the martial law years of president-turned-dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos. By unpacking this infrastructure vis-a-vis the technologies of mass communication at oligarchs' disposal, this study shows how the audience—a role that the Filipino people were expected to play—became integral but silenced figures in the performativities of discipline by the increasingly authoritarian postcolonial state.