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IPC invitation to a VRA lecture by Noah Theriault, PhD

The Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC)
School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University

cordially invites you to a lecture on




Visiting Research Associate, Institute of Philippine Culture
Assistant Professor, Department of International and Area Studies, University of Oklahoma


 Friday, 4 July 2014
– 6:00 p.m.
Social Science Conference Rooms 3 & 4
Ground floor, Social Sciences Building
Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights, Quezon City



How do invisible beings in the forested hinterlands complicate the work of bureaucrats in the capital? What do dreams and the beings who visit them have to do with state power? Questions like these remain marginal to the study of statecraft and state-minority relations. They should, however, be taken seriously, especially as an increasing number of states seek to “co-manage” frontier landscapes in cooperation with indigenous and minority groups. Observers of this trend are well acquainted with the “unruly subjects” who complicate the plans of neoliberal government, but we are only beginning to ponder how extra-human forms of agency, such as invisible forest beings, might do the same. In this talk, Dr. Theriault advocates a more ontologically diversified understanding of how governmental authority is (dis)assembled in contexts of difference. His argument arises from ethnographic fieldwork in Palawan, where post-authoritarian reforms have made indigenous rights a central concern in environmental regulation. Officials there have looked to the indigenous Palawan ethic of restraint as a customary counterpart to bureaucratic conservation. In practice, however, this ethic is based, in part, on social relations with an invisible realm of powerful beings who make their will known through mediums or dreams. Palawan uses of land and resources often, therefore, involve negotiations and outcomes that defy the logic of government regulation. What results is better described as a mutual condition of misunderstanding or distrust than the realization of “ecogovernmentality” or an empowering devolution of authority. To better understand global (neo)liberalism—and to hold it accountable to its goal of local empowerment—we should, Dr. Theriault will argue, attend more carefully to the ontological diversity of forces that shape social and ecological processes.

About the lecturer

A sociocultural anthropologist by training, Noah Theriault, PhD is Assistant Professor in the Department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His research explores how the regulation of people and their environments is shaped—and complicated—by different ways of knowing, valuing, and being in the world. He completed his doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison after earning undergraduate degrees from Arizona State University. He is currently working on an ethnographic manuscript based on his dissertation, “Agencies of the Environmental State: Difference and Regulation on the Philippines’ ‘Last Frontier’.”



* For inquiries or confirmation of your attendance, please contact (+63 2) 426-6001 extension 4651 local 213, or email us at <>.

(From Ateneo BlueBoard)


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