Ilustrado Thought and Historiography
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book’s main themes. This book examines the extraordinary flowering of scholarly writing about the peoples and history of the Philippines, written by young Filipinos in the years preceding the Philippine Revolution. It seeks to explain how young colonial subjects could produce such scholarship, what appeal these scholarly pursuits held for them, and what political significance the writings had for their contemporaries. These writings show that the political meanings of scholarly and intellectual traditions are shaped by their content and methods, though not wholly determined by them. These young Filipinos drew on a set of scholarly practices—linguistics (philology), folklore, ethnology—that were part of European Orientalism and nineteenth-century racial sciences and, in turn, associated with European colonial pretensions.
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