Conference on the British Invasion of the Philippines at SOAS


In September 2022, SOAS held its annual Philippine Studies conference titled The 1762 British Invasion of Spanish-Ruled Philippines: Beyond Imperial and National Imaginaries

This  year’s iteration of the Annual Philippine Studies Conference at SOAS was chaired by Dr Cristina Juan (SOAS) with Dr  Christina Lee (Princeton University). Being both co-directors of the 1762 archive project, they both felt that it was appropriate to focus this year’s Philippine Studies Conference on the theme of “The British Invasion of Spanish-Ruled Philippines, 1762-1764.” With an emphasis on the analysis and critical use of primary source materials, the conference will explore productive ways of historicizing the occupation of Spanish-ruled Philippines, by centering on issues of agency and resistance, trans-imperial conditions and contexts, and on-the-ground repercussions, especially in relation to Philippine and Spanish material culture, socio-economies, and local and pan-Asian histories. Most importantly, it seeks to engage the public in a conversation about reparative approaches to dealing with the loss of lives and material culture that resulted from the occupation.

The theme of the 2-day conference synched perfectly with the 1762 archive project’s goals and initiatives. It gathered a group of scholars who were interested in this rather niche topic, got them to know each other well and then created networking opportunities to be able to set down some concrete markers for projects and future collaborations.

The transcription workshop that Prof Christina Lee led during the conference was attended by people who were interested in transcribing the San Agustin manuscripts. An agreement was made between SOAS and the Director of the National Archives of the Philippines to create an online digital portal to the NAP’s primary sources on the British Invasion of Manila. This new digital access will be very helpful in researching the historical contexts and consequences of the ransacking of the Library from the Filipino people’s perspective.

The conference also included art events that were directly related to the 1762 archive project.

Towards the end of the first day of the conference, the entire group headed over to Marylebone to see four transnational artists perform Chasing The Human and Non-Human Senses: an Homage to Pedro Manuel (Ilocos, c. 1750 – London, May 1810).

The piece retraced Pedro’s life as a hydrographer, sailor and Alexander Dalrymple’s “faithful servant and friend ” through the streets of Marylebone’s 18th c. terraced houses, churches and graveyards. Pedro came to live and die in London and he himself took care of the famous Dalrymple library where most of the San Agustin material was stored before it was dispersed in a massive auction after Dalrymple’s death.

There was also a micro-exhibit of a Cabinet of Missing things that included write ups of this famed library as well as other maps and manuscripts stashed in English Country houses which came to be because of the wealth and material culture that came out of the British Invasion of Manila.

Read about the conference and see who participated at the conference’s website

The full conference and all of its sessions and discussions are now available on YouTube

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