The Philippine Studies Group of the Association for Asian Studies is pleased to award the Grant Goodman Prize in History and Historical Studies for 2021 to Caroline Sy Hau for her substantial contributions to Philippine historical studies. Hau is Professor of English and Literature at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan.
The University of the Philippines Valedictorian earned her subsequent graduate degrees at Cornell University. Since receiving her doctorate in 1998, Professor Hau has been a leader in Philippine historical and literary studies with numerous books, edited books and journal special issues. She has also published 37 peer reviewed book chapters and journal articles. During her career she has received many accolades including the Philippine National Book Award (seven times), the Gintong Aklat Award and the Philippine Free Press Literary Award (twice).
The body of her work has greatly enhanced Philippine literary studies and has added new dimensions to the study of the nation’s history in terms of the nation’s gender relationships, Chinese ethnicity, politics and political development.
The Philippine Studies Group is pleased to acknowledge the outstanding scholarly achievement that Professor Caroline Hau has shown throughout her career and confer upon her the 2021 Grant Goodman Prize in Philippine History and Historical Studies.
Paul A. Rodell
Chair, Grant Goodman Committee
Philippine Studies Group
Following are remarks given by Vicente Rafael at the 2021 PSG meeting where the award was announced:
A Tribute for Carolyn Sy Hau, winner of the 2021 Goodman Prize
I am very pleased to announce this year’s winner of the Grant Goodman Prize: Prof. Carolyn Sy Hau. Though she is, strictly speaking, not a historian, you can see how everything she writes is informed by a keen historical sensibility. At one point, I recall Benedict Anderson referring to her as one of the premiere historians of the Philippines. It’s not hard to see why. Not only is she one the leading scholars of Filipino-Chinese culture; she has also written about literary history and elite political cultures in ways that are powerful and compelling.
Carol’s books on nationalism and literature are classics in the field, and combine a sophisticated theoretical approach with close readings of a range of texts from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. A prodigious researcher and writer, she has managed the remarkable feat of either publishing her own books or editing collections of essays nearly every other year for the last decade.
Each of Carol’s books has reshaped historical studies on the Philippines. Read together, her first two books, Necessary Fictions (2000) and On the Subject of the Nation (2004), constitute the most analytically sophisticated account of postwar Philippine literary history, accounting for the shifts in the genre and the evolving nationalist consciousness that these novels convey.
Her landmark book, The Chinese Question (2014), is the only account of the evolving meanings of being Chinese in the Philippines, from the emergence of the colonial-era Chinese mestizo class to the present discourse on Chinese-Filipino/“Tsinoys.” Her account of the Tsinoy as the new mestizo, culturally integrated and imbibed with the social and economic capital that stems from various forms of “Chinese” influence within Southeast Asia, is an unparalleled account of a new cultural formation that few scholars have even noticed. Looking at Chinese contributions to Filipino nationalism and communism, The Chinese Question also examines the provincial Chinese, the fraught relationship between the Chinese and the state in the last quarter of the 20th century, and the “integration” of the Chinese in Filipino popular culture.
In another important book, Elites, and Ilustrados, Carol synthesized the vast literature on the ilustrado and altered our view of various topics, from Marcosian developmentalism and crony capitalism to state-sponsorship overseas work. The book provides a much-needed methodological corrective to studies of the Philippine elite that only focus on the oligarchy’s patrimonial features. These works see corruption and rent-seeking as the be-all and end-all of works in the Philippine political economy. However, Carol shows that the history of Philippine elite/s must be understood not only through the Philippine political economy’s cliches but also through culture and a rigorous re-reading of macroeconomic theory. That a literary scholar has written a work the alters our views of twentieth-century economic history is a testament to Carol’s breadth and her endless capacity to evolve as a thinker.
Carol’s latest book, Interpreting Rizal, is an incisive set of essays that returns her to the key works of Jose Rizal, where she reconsiders, among other things, the central role that Maria Clara plays in Rizal’s Noli and the national hero’s place in an emerging pan-Asian anti-colonial imagination.
Aside from authoring several prize-winning books, Carol has also collaborated with various colleagues to produce a number of edited collections on a dizzying array of topics. These include: “The Best of Tulay: An Anthology of Chinese Filipino Literature in English, Tagalog, and Chinese. With Benedict Anderson, she co-edited Carlos Bulosan’s All the Conspirators; and with the Thai scholar-and-public intellectual Kasian Tejapira Traveling Nation-Makers: Transnational Flows and Movements in the Making of Modern Southeast Asia. Carol also co-wrote in Japanese with Prof. Takashi Shiraishi, How is China Changing East Asia? The 21st Century Regional System; andwith the writers Katrina P. Tuvera and Isabelita O. Reyes Querida: An Anthology (2013), a compilation of poems, essays, and book excerpts that looks at the role of the mistress in Philippine politics and society. She also edited with J.Paul Manzanilla, Remembering/Rethinking EDSA, a compilation of essays and poems that asks us to reconsider the significance of the 1986 “People Power Revolution” that ended the 15- year rule of the Marcos dictatorship, along with Elite: An Anthology,
It is well worth noting that Carol is also an award-winning fiction writer. Her literary works include: Recuerdos de Patay and Other Stories (2015), Demigods and Monsters: Stories (2019), and Tiempo Muerto (2019), all of which reflect a sensibility honed in exile and deep political engagement. That she writes literature and doesn’t simply study it is a tribute to the capaciousness of her thinking and wide range of her talents.
Carol’s significance can be gauged by the fact that she has become one of the most widely known Filipina scholars in Asia and the world. Her position at Kyoto makes her a valuable interlocutor in the Asian and Southeast Asian study of the Philippines. This intra-regional concern with Philippine Studies is seen in the journal she edits and in the many conferences she has organized. She has also trained a number of Japanese graduate students who have been doing important research that open up our understanding of less studied fields such as economic history, urban anthropology and domestic labor. Thanks to Carol’s active interventions, many Filipino scholars have received fellowships at Kyoto to carry out their work and interact with Japanese students and faculty.
Last but not least, Carol has been a true institution-builder, a scholar who believes in bringing Southeast Asian studies back to Asia. She was instrumental in launching the quadrennial Philippine Studies Conference in Japan (PSCJ) and the Southeast Asian Studies in Asia (SEASIA) consortium. She has also been a key contributor to our field’s most important journal: Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints (PSHEV). If she is not writing for the journal, she is either reviewing, contributing interviews, facilitating its conferences, or guest editing.
For all these reasons, Caroline Sy Hau is richly deserving of the Grant Goodman Prize. We heartily congratulate her for winning this award.
–From the nominating letters of Vicente L. Rafael, Patricio Abinales and Lisandro Claudio
The following are remarks delivered by Dr. Hau at the 2021 PSG meeting on receiving the award.
Thank you very much, Paul, Vince, for the kind words.
I’m truly privileged and humbled to be a recipient of this year’s Grant Goodman Prize, for which I am grateful to the Philippine Studies Group for your vote of confidence. This is an unexpected honor, all the more so because I think of myself more as a student of history than as a bona fide historian.
I got interested in Philippine history because I was interested in Philippine literature. From the beginning, I realized that to better understand a literary work, one had to attend closely not only to the workings of the text, but to its materiality and historicity as an artefact and as a dynamic process of language-use, meaning-making, and intervention in the world. Text and so-called context are so mutually implicated in each other that it makes no sense to speak of the “background” of a literary work. Rather, one needs to think about words and texts in motion, of literature as an ineluctably temporal and for that reason historical phenomenon of world-making.
Philippine literature and history have not always been separate disciplines, nor were they separate from other fields of inquiry. The members of the Propaganda Movement dabbled freely in pursuits ranging from writing novels and essays to collecting insects and folklore to archival research to fencing to obtaining membership in learned societies.
Recall, too, that Teodoro Agoncillo first gained public recognition as a prize-winning Tagalog poet and short story writer. While he was careful to distinguish the historical and literary imaginations, history and literature tended to bleed into each other in his most influential work, The Revolt of the Masses (Aguilar 2020, 145). Critics have a point in arguing that Agoncillo’s literary blandishments (ibid., 176) sometimes compromised the historical accuracy of Revolt. More significantly, his character studies of Bonifacio and the masses left a lot to be desired.
But it is telling that two of the most penetrating critiques of Agoncillo, by Neferti Tadiar (2004) and Filomeno V. Aguilar, Jr. (2020), were written by scholars who were trained, in Neferti’s case, as a literary critic and, in Jun’s case, as a management engineer and sociologist.
Students of literature concern themselves with looking closely at the ways in which storytelling highlights or suppresses the very presuppositions that shape it and the ways in which narratives appeal to their readers as plausible representations of reality. These concerns, too, are shared by historians as they deal with the challenges of using archival and other materials and their crafting of their own historical narratives and studies (see White 1978, 58).
Whatever the methodological and theoretical differences between literature and history—in part a consequence of their institutionalization and professionalization as distinct fields—they have in common a keen awareness of the imperatives, the political, intellectual, and artistic stakes, and also the pitfalls and potentials, of interpretation.
I continue to draw inspiration from Resil Mojares, a recipient of the Grant Goodman prize, who started his career as a fictionist, and who has characterized his method of doing research that freely ranges across the disciplines of politics, history, literature, anthropology, and cultural studies as a form of “border raiding” (Mojares 2017, 1). In fact, a quick look at the work of previous recipients of this prize shows that this has indeed been more the rule than the exception. These days, though, I must say that I enjoy reading works of history, and also physics, far more than works of literary, cultural, and art theory and criticism.
We live in a time of intellectual and political ferment. Philippine Studies has expanded its scope and concerns beyond the ambits of methodological nationalism and US-Philippines bilateralism, even as scholars are now better armed to range across local, sub-regional, national, regional, transregional, and global scales of analysis. The imperative to go beyond academia and engage with Filipinos and other peoples remains. Border-raiding involves not only crossing disciplinary or area boundaries, but many other boundaries as well, not least social, imaginative, and political.
May we continue to learn from each other and from our other colleagues in Asian Studies and, just as important, beyond. Let us engage in the venerable art of border-raiding together.
Maraming salamat at mabuhay tayong lahat!
Aguilar, Filomeno V. 2020. “What Made the Masses Revolutionary?: Ignorance, Character, and Class in Teodoro Agoncillo’s The Revolt of the Masses,” Philippine Studies 68 (2): 137-78.
Mojares, Resil B. 2017. Interrogations in Philippine Cultural History. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press
Tadiar, Neferti Xina. 2004. Fantasy-Production: Sexual Economies and Other Philippine Consequences for the New World Order. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
White, Hayden. 1978. Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.