Williams 2007 Dialectics In Muslim Mindanao Development


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Literature review essay of dialectics of development initiatives in Muslim Mindanao.

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Williams 2007 Dialectics In Muslim Mindanao Development

  1. 1. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] DIALECTICS IN DISCOURSES OF DEVELOPMENT IN MUSLIM MINDANAO Mark S. Williams∗ INTRODUCTION [p350] In the aftermath of World War II the dominant position of Western ideals cam in dialectical opposition to those of the Soviet world; in the decade of the 1990s and post- 9/11, however, this opposition shifted to the Islamic world. Examining certain dialectics in the Muslim Mindanao context will facilitate understanding the current situation confronting government and non-government development specialists in the southern Philippines. Development is a complex enterprise which has dominated the social, economic, political and cultural domains of the globalizing world for sixty-plus years now, since the end of World War II. In diachronic analysis of this unique enterprise, certain discourses have led development on its path to various and sundry peoples and cultures of this world. As this path has been forged, certain interactions between those who have ‘developed’ and those who are being ‘developed’ have led to some collisions and conflicts along the way. If I may borrow from political Marxist terminology, Western development practice has forged and originated “dialectics” which help to explain certain frictions and tensions encountered diachronically in time. In particular, dialectics which have [p351] characterized discourses of development in Muslim Mindanao, especially in the years since the end of World War II, will be the focus of this study. An examination of these dialectics in order to understand the current situation confronting government and non-government development specialists in Muslim Mindanao is the goal. Presenting those dialectics will contribute to the understanding of the complexity of the problems befalling Muslim Mindanao in development, and will indicate the need for ongoing research and begin to reveal the seemingly-true and the actually-true forces which vie for power in the mandate to provide beneficial and sustainable development in Muslim Mindanao. While Walt Disney can parade the message of ‘It’s a Small World After All” in theme parks around the globe, it becomes quickly apparent to the erudite researcher that even a relatively small geographical area (i.e., Muslim Mindanao) can have diverse and complex problems that will challenge social, cultural, and development anthropologists for years to come. This study, therefore, focuses only on that portion of central ∗ Mark Stephen Williams has a master’s degree in Intercultural Studies (Cultural Anthropology) from Biola University, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. and is working with a non-government organization that seeks to help the plight of the Magindanaons and other indigenous Muslims of the Philippines. He is pursuing the Ph.D. in Development Studies at Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City, Philippines, while serving as a development consultant with the Society for International Ministries. Mark Williams has also done ethnography, and published two anthropological pieces, “Causality, Power, and Cultural Traits of the Maguindanao” in the Philippine Sociological Review of 1997 and “Mandala and Its Significance in Magindanao Muslim Society,” in The Culture Mandala 7(2) of 2007, available on line. He can be reached at <markathi@pldtdsl.net>.
  2. 2. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago which indigenous Muslims have historically claimed as their ancestral homeland. Since secondary-source information was heavily relied upon, this researcher regrets the lack in this paper of originally gathered ethnographic data.1 A REVIEW OF LITERATURE In this survey undertaken on different dialectics, factors will include stakeholders and actors in the development process as it has unfolded in the years following the rebuilding of Manila and the Philippines after World War II. The more general actors include any and all of the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank, IMF, etc.), which will be referred to as they have direct interaction with development processes in Muslim Mindanao, as well as other international government bodies including the United Nations Development Fund – the UNDP (HDN 2005; Schiavo-Campo & Judd 2005; and, select articles in Kikuchi 2004). Specific stakeholders include Philippine government and non- government organizations (NGOs), as well as Philippine internal rebel groups and certain international NGOs (Judd 2003; and, Schiavo-Campo & Judd 2005). The dialectics examined in this study are: [p352] 1) “Macro” versus “Micro” economic policies (Horowitz 2004:24; Maybury-Lewis 2004:39,41; Peters 2004:66; Osman 2004:133; Racelis 2004:140; Eyben 2004:177; Elwert 2004:187; Villacorta 2004:273-274); 2) Indigenous versus National claims (Maybury-Lewis 2004:34,37; Kikuchi 2004:45; Mollica 2004:108; Osman 2004:120-121,125,137; Niehof 2004:160; Vink 2004:245); 3) Western versus non-Western paradigms (Kikuchi 2004:44; Racelis 2004:142,147; Niehof 2004:152; Soubert 2004:165-167; Eyben 2004:174,176; Elwert 2004:187; Evers 2004:206,214-217; Dahl 2004:224-225; Narita 2004:269; Villacorta 2004:275); 4) Globalization versus “Local Knowledge” (Kikuchi 2004:46,52; Clarke 2004:79,93; Osman 2004:129; Racelis 2004:140; Elwert 2004:194; Evers 2004:204,211; Dahl 2004:228; Vink 2004: 243,247,250,252,260); 5) “Top-Down” or Democratization (Clarke 2004:85; Racelis 2004:138; Soubert 2004:171; Elwert 2004:189-191); 6) Trauma versus “Resilience” (Mollica 2004:113; Concepcion, et al, 2003:4; Agerbak 1996); 7) Researcher Neutrality versus Action-Energy (Racelis 2004:141,148; Alejo 2000); and, 8) Dar-ul Islam versus Dar-ul Harb (Gowing 1979; Jubair 1999). Literature used in this examination focuses mainly on the years 1946 to the present – a time in which the Philippines as a nation received its independence from the sovereignty of the United States, and in which Muslims around the world were beginning to awaken to the possibility of ‘Islamic Revival’ in the countries and regions receiving independence from their European colonial masters. It was later in this period, especially
  3. 3. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] in the 1960s, then, that Filipino Muslims adopted the idea of being bangsamoro (Jubair 1999), independent and separate from the national (integration) ideals of the infant Philippine nation of that time. Striving for the ideal of a Mindanao Muslim dar-ul Islam, in the surrounding environment of Philippine national government policies strengthening dar-ul harb in Muslim perception (Gowing 1979), is an ominous dialectic which accounts for the ongoing hostile and violent conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims in the Philippines. [p353] DISCOURSE DIALECTICS IN MUSLIM MINDANAO CONTEXT For better understanding, it behooves us to organize certain dialectics topics into categories from most concrete and applicational to most abstract and philosophical. In this manner, it can be shown how the Muslim Mindanao discourses of development have progressed from certain “acted-upon” paradigms to those that are as yet only “dreamed- of.” The balance of the analysis of this study will therefore be presented and expounded as follows: 1) In the Concrete Applications category, explored first, are the dialectics of a) “macro” versus “micro” economic policies; b) indigenous versus national (integration) claims; c) globalization versus “local knowledge”; d) “top-down” authority versus democratization; and, e) dar-ul Islam versus dar-ul harb. 2) In the Philosophical Abstracts category are a) Western versus non-Western paradigms; b) trauma versus “resilience”; and, c) researcher neutrality versus researcher ‘action’ (energy). CONCRETE APPLICATIONAL DIALECTICS Macro versus Micro Economic Policies As the epitome of “macro-economic policies” in the past 60 years, the Bretton Woods institutions, conceived after World War II, have set the course for the liberal (classic) economic notion of development and those nations that were to benefit. The structure emerging from the Bretton Woods conference was supposed to rest on four pillars of multilateralism: 1. The International Monetary Fund, to maintain global monetary stability, primarily through the mechanism of fixed but adjustable exchange rates. 2. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development [World Bank], to reconstruct the war-torn economies of Europe and Japan and to stimulate the growth of the less developed regions in the Third World. [p354] 3. The International Trade Organization (ITO) [which was supplanted by the GATT in 1948].
  4. 4. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] 4. The United Nations (UN), to maintain peace among nations as well as to encourage social and human development within nations. (ul Haq 1995:165) Through the use of these entities to enforce “macro” approaches to economic reconstruction and development, the ethos of “planning” to develop along these liberal lines were etched into the stone of the practice and philosophical underpinnings of the development enterprise: Planning techniques were refined during the Second World War and its aftermath. It was during this period, and in connection with the War, that operations research, systems analysis, human engineering, and views of planning as ‘rational social action’ became widespread. When the era of development in the Third World dawned in the late 1940s, the dream of designing society through planning found an even more fertile ground. In Latin America and Asia, the creation of a ‘developing society,’ understood as an urban-based civilization characterized by growth, political stability and increasing standards of living, became an explicit goal, and ambitious plans were designed to bring it about with the eager assistance of international organizations and experts from the ‘developed’ world. (Escobar 1995b:67) So much for the espousal of laissez-faire and the “invisible hand.” If development was to follow such “planning” wherever it was introduced in the world, there would have to be some degree of “command capitalism” (Osman 2004:133; cf. Elwert 2004:198-201) directed from those Bretton Woods institutions, especially as occurred in the first 25 years of their existence (ul Haq 1995:166). Regarding “micro” initiatives in economic development, analysis points to a strong “feudal system” (Filipinas Foundation 1971:46) which characterized Filipino Muslim society in the early years of the sixteenth century. Solid in agriculture and fishing products for trade with surrounding sultanates of Southeast Asia, as well as links to trade with China (Warren 1985), the Filipino Muslim sultanates were not tied into currency exchanges or bank-loan borrowing on any scale in the three-hundred plus years of what Majul (1999) has called the ‘Moro Wars’ period. It is in this regard that the placation of Filipino Muslims against rebellion and armed separatism came in the form of BIMP EAGA2 in the mid-1990s (as the economic counterpart to the political creation of [p355] the ARMM in the early 1990s). In understanding historical and cultural situations which have tied the insular areas of Southeast Asia to each other in trade and political relations for centuries, one of the primary stated goals of BIMP EAGA is to …give Mindanaoans and Palawenos the opportunity to renew cultural and ethnic ties with their East ASEAN neighbors and build upon historical trade ties that date back to the 17th century. (Cultural affinity is seen as a strong binding force for BIMP-EAGA, an element that is absent in the other growth areas of Asia.) (Mindanao Economic Development Council 2004). In mentioning the significance of “cultural affinity,” the Philippine government (MEDCo) is indicating its debt to those social and development anthropologists who have sensitized Malacañang to the necessity of accounting for the human element of the “micro” while the mechanism of the “macro” forges on. This is one dialectic that will need constant monitoring and research on into this new millennium.
  5. 5. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] Indigenous versus National (Integration) Policies For Muslims in Mindanao, one of the longest, ongoing struggles has been their fight for what they perceive as their ancestral domain – the areas of Mindanao that they have called their home from time immemorial. By the end of World War II, Manila became the capital for the newly independent Philippines, and government agencies charged with concern for the welfare of indigenous Muslims had changed many times, not always delivering what had been promised. This long succession of agencies was an indication of a chronic dissatisfaction with the government agencies with responsibility for the welfare of Muslims. National attention was finally focused on the so-called Moro Problem in 1955, during the height of the Kamlon campaign, when the House of the Representatives created a committee to study the problems of the Muslims…. The committee found that Muslims felt such resentment for the government that a significant number felt offended to be called Filipinos. (Filipinas Foundation 1971:161) More than fifteen years after the findings of this committee, after the unfortunate Jabidah massacre (and other events that polarized Muslim- [p356] Christian hostilities), Marcos would declare martial law in the early 1970s to counter the rebellion and insurgencies of the communists and the Muslims contributing to the “Moro problem.” While the national government would sponsor different studies “on Muslim affairs in the Philippines” (Filipinas Foundation 1971), the “indigenous consciousness” forged with the religious demands of Islam would spark separatism, rebellion and outright engagement with AFP forces – especially in the 1970s, but heightened again in the late 1990s: By the 1970’s, the economic impact of this transmigration trend [of Philippine national integration policies] was widely felt among Muslims in the Philippines and a Muslim separatist group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), arose to challenge Manila’s rule in Mindanao…. The separatist goals of the MNLF were reinforced in the late 1970’s and 1980’s by the global wave of Islamic fundamentalism, in the wake of the Iranian revolution, and the participation of Philippine Muslims in the mujahidin, fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. (Dalpino 2003:2; italics in original) After the MNLF signed a peace agreement with Manila in 1996, the GRP still had its problem with the more separatist MILF and the terrorist Abu Sayyaf (Dalpino 2003:2- 3). The creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was supposed to support the letter-of-the-law regarding the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, but the fact that Manila had strict control over its operations from the beginnings never convinced knowledgeable Muslims that this was the indigenous autonomy they were yearning for. Part of this reaction by Malacañang is the Bretton Woods paradigm that centralized national control is required for the ‘proper’ way to do development in the developing world. The corollary statement to this, then, is most sobering: “Indigenous peoples, it is claimed, must not be allowed to ‘stand in the way of development’” (Maybury-Lewis 2004:34). In order that nothing will “stand in the way,” “national integration demands some measure of assimilation, especially in the process of adaptation and distribution of scarce resources…” (Osman 2004:121). This finally sparks another dialectic into play, that of dar-ul Islam versus dar-ul Harb, which is elaborated on below.
  6. 6. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] [p357] Globalization versus ‘Local Knowledge’ Another vestige of the Bretton Woods institutional legacy is the concept of “globalization.” Questions relating to the origins of globalization, the means by which the process has evolved and diverged from its former course, and the positive and negative outcomes of the process and its complexity in holding together elements of the ‘rich’ and ‘poor,’ ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in a series of mutually dependent unequal relationships, have come to dominate much of intellectual and academic life in both Western and non-Western countries. (Davies & Nyland 2004:5) In other words, it embodies the quintessential dialectic in and of itself, and it is diametrically opposed to anything regarding indigeneity or “local knowledge.” The reason for this is made clear in “five broad definitions” (Scholte 2000) which engender the complete meaning of the term: 1) “internationalization;” 2) “liberalization;” 3) “universalization;” 4) “Westernization or modernization;” and, 5) “supraterritoriality” (Scholte quoted in Davies & Nyland 2004:5-6; italics in original). As is most obvious in even a cursory reading of the above definitions, globalization inherently works for the broad-stroke in society as a whole – the generalization(s) and the ‘macro’ approaches to economic and social solutions to development issues in developing nations. At this point, ‘local knowledge’ enters the picture as an alternative – maybe even a corrective – for such general, broad-stroke tactics. Using the tool of ethnography, the anthropologist (Harold C. Conklin, for example) goes further than generalized approaches can allow and further seeks to uncover those details that are normally only reserved to “insiders” with “local knowledge”: An extended stay and local experience are the keys that allow an assessment of the data [for more efficient development strategies], and without that base it is difficult to evaluate a person’s information. The anthropologist acquires a secondary socialization in which continued exposure involving continuous informal testing brings about a local competence. Subsequent analysis while writing-up corresponds to making explicit a cultural competence that was formerly contextual and implicit. (Clarke 2004:79) [p358] Economically, the globalizing effects of “internationalization,” “liberalization” and “modernization” that Scholte (2000) alludes to is confirmed by the “forces of market expansion” (Evers 2004:204) in the ever-unfolding paradigm of Bretton Woods institutions and policies. Because “the expansion of markets has profoundly changed the social conditions and culture of societies around the globe” (Evers 204), the mechanism of the ‘invisible hand’ in liberal, free-market economic practice does not always pinpoint the challenges raised with the most effective solutions. Again, as the discourses move and, in effect, undergo paradigm-shift a la Kuhn, this is where anthropology facilitates and corrects commissions and omissions in current development practice: Integrated self-regulating markets presuppose the existence of a predominance of rational action…. [While] modernization can be seen as a process of rationalization,…the pure rationality of market exchange has meanwhile been unmasked as irrational…. [Instead] this new “rationality”
  7. 7. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] implies a “re-embedding of economic action in social relations.” Development anthropology and sociology have come to the forefront with these new processes. (Evers 2004:211) Certainly while it seems that globalization lends itself to forces which take place in a veritable cultural vacuum (i.e., supraculturally – above specific cultural elements), this actually denies the actual interplay that human cultures have on the whole globalization process taking root in today’s new-millennial environment: The integration of the local community in a wider society also entails a situation of negotiation between local and global images of reality…. One should not underrate the strength of the local, however. When international ideas and modes of expression take root, they do so under the influence of local culture. To meet people with respect today also has to imply that one acknowledges creativity in handling the meeting of the local with the global. (Dahl 2004:228) So, lest we succumb to the temptation that globalizing influences will smother and circumvent all local cultural influences in Muslim Mindanao in its wake, we need to understand the power of human culture over and above the mechanisms of social and economic paradigms which give the impression that they are unstoppable. This fallacy is what makes this dialectic all the more politically-charged for actors in develop- [p359] ment in Muslim Mindanao, and it will require more study and monitoring in the future. ‘Top-Down’ Authority versus Democratization Another dualism that echoes at least two others already explored – indigenous vs. national integration, and globalization vs. local-knowledge – is in regard to management and governance of projects and the society that is supposed to benefit from the development enterprise invoked. One basic tension that is evident from the outset is the desire of most development work to foster democratization in opposition to the “monolithic” tradition of governing power in most Southeast Asian countries – the Philippines being a notable exception under the influence of American rule in the twentieth century: On one so-called Asian side, the power of the state relying on military power and an ethnic group is more important than the exercise of rights by political groups. We see this in Malaysia, where the Malay Muslim ethnic and religious majority is predominant…. These authoritarian regimes argue that the specific situation in Asia politically, culturally and traditionally required a monolithic power in order to achieve economic development alongside political stability…. (Soubert 2004:171) Of course, the Philippines “exception” is a generality that excludes the Filipino Muslims who, as directly related to Malay Muslims (McAmis 2002), have as much of a legacy of theocratic authoritarianism as any other Muslim countries with “sultanate” political structures (Jubair 1999). One aspect of the Muslim sultanate structure that would resonate with some governance practices in development is in regard to the creation of a bureaucracy: One common consequence of development aid is the bureaucratization of development. This bureaucratization leads, however, not to the development of a bureaucracy in the Weberian sense, but under the auspices of the command state to an appropriation by a state class…. On the level of
  8. 8. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] political discussion, this leads to a situation in which “development” is frequently defined as “projects carried out by the (centralized) state.” (Elwert 2004:191) Since the Muslims are not governed completely under Shari’ah law in the Philippines, the centralizing effect of a theocratic polity does not formally [p360] though some limited form of shari’ah does function in Muslim Mindanao). Indeed, because of the veritable tug-of-war between Philippine national designs for democratic governance and Muslim theocracy, the rule of law – an essential ingredient of good governance and development – has been especially weak in the area. Some advances has been made, particularly in the progressive recognition of [adat] customary law and its integration with formal legal and judicial systems. The resurgence of the conflict [in the mid- to late-1990s] shortcircuited this progress. (Schiavo- Campo & Judd 2005:6; italics added) So it is with the desire for greater democratization and popular participation among the grassroots Muslims who should be the direct beneficiaries of specific development initiatives: “Because the traditional leaders of a [Filipino Muslim] community have always played an important role in regulating the relationship of the members of the community with outside world, prerogatives claimed by traditional leaders can be expected to exert an important influence on project outcomes” (Judd 2003:26). Because it can be shown that “culture and management style” (Nolan 2002:174) are inversely proportionate to each other, this dialectic will continue to be corollary to the study of the other two previously examined above. Dar-ul Islam versus Dar-ul Harb This final dichotomy examined under the Concrete Applications category is perhaps the most emotionally and politically charged as it deals with the heart of cultural values most dear to Filipino Muslims; it deals directly with worldview differences between Muslims and non-Muslims. Recalling above that “supraterritoriality” (Scholte 2000) characterizes Western, modern globalization, the flip-side to that coin for the Islamic world would be the distinct territory of dar-ul Islam, or the “abode of Islam.” In the past, the region inhabited by Moros in the southern Philippines was clearly dar al-Islam, that is, territorially part of the “Abode of Islam.” But its conquest by non-Muslims put that region in an ambiguous position from the standpoint of Islamic law (Shari’a). Muslim Filipi [p361] nos…belong to the spiritual, nonterritorial, universal Umma [Islamic community], and those living in communities more or less isolated from non-Muslim influences can achieve an umma on a local level. But there is a question as to whether their homeland can still be regarded as territorially and juridically part of dar al-Islam, or whether it is lost to dar al-Harb (the “Abode of War,” the territory of nonbelievers). (Gowing 1979:202; italics in original) While the Philippine government attempts to work in concert with Bretton Woods institutions to create the “proper” environment for “development” on a national scale, this basic distinction in worldview understanding is often overlooked or just ignored as insignificant, which is actually a vital mistake. “Islamic resurgence will increase the dar-
  9. 9. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] al-Islam (household of Islam) and decrease the opposition in the dar-al-harb (household of war). This requires jihad (struggle for the faith) and da’wa (mission to the world). The ultimate goal of resurgence is to bring the whole world under the controlling influence of Islam” (McAmis 2002:73). This is probably one of the most volatile dialectics in the whole discussion of elements complicating the discourses and pursuit of development in the Philippines, especially in “conflict-affected areas in Mindanao” (Judd 2003). Gowing reflected the mood of this binary-opposition originally over twenty-five years ago, and yet it is just as pertinent and relevant today: It is in the light of this dar al-Islam / dar al-Harb dichotomy that many of the issues which Moros raise with the National Government should be seen. Their past and present anxieties over such matters as official recognition of the dignities and authority of their traditional leaders (sultans and datus), the appointment of Muslims to government posts in their own region, the security of their lands from alienation, respect for their religious customs, and official cognizance of Islamic and adat law (particularly in domestic and inheritance affairs), should be understood as part of their general concern…. Many Muslim Filipinos feel that their region is in great danger of slipping fully into dar al-Harb, and that Government policies and actions are having that effect. (1979:203- 204; italics in original) Perhaps it is prudent to end this first category with this most significant dialectic because, until this is addressed and understood well by the Philippine national and international development communities, the desire for progress and sustainable development initiatives will be [p362] drowned out by the clamor and clutter of rebellion, conflict and war. PHILOSOPHICAL ABSTRACT DIALECTICS Western or non-Western Paradigms This category of dialectics is much less about what has transpired throughout the world through development practices and strategies and much more about the ideas, philosophies and aspirations that have guided those who champion the Bretton Woods paradigm and those who oppose it as yet another variant of Western imperialism. Indeed, the birth of the Bretton Woods institutions in the 1940s was a direct response to the dismal experience of the 1920s and 1930s. Many of those surveying the wreckage of the global economic system in the dreary days of the Second World War – among them, John Maynard Keynes, the dominant economic thinker of that time – came to a simple conclusion. The world’s economic system needed honest referees. It could not be left to the mercy of unilateral action by governments or to the unregulated workings of the international markets. It needed multilateral institutions of economic governance to lay down some mutually agreed rules for all nations on the conduct of their affairs. (ul Haq 1995:164) Therefore, while proponents of this paradigm touted it as merely a progressive yet benign mechanism for achieving rapid development in the post-World War II environment of the world, their vision was certainly more general, global and “macro” than it was for the specific context of the national cultures affected.
  10. 10. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] The reasons why culture emerged only as an afterthought have more to do with the way in which development was seen than with the concept of culture. All dominant development paradigms in the 1960s and 70s were based on an econocentric and unilineal vision of development, in which modernization was equated with Westernization and was seen both as a prerequisite for and at the same time the result of development. (Niehof 2004:152) Even the socialist economic program of the Warsaw Pact nations was conceived from the ideas of the French socialists and German communists of the nineteenth century; in other words, it was ‘Western’ in its outlook on certain determinist factors concerning capital and economic systems. [p363] As world society has experimented with globalization and found some of its results wanting, if not irrelevant, development and social anthropologists have begun to be enlisted for their ideas to refine and re-invigorate efforts of efficient and sustainable development that contributes to the well-being of the whole people to which the enterprise is directed. Components of ideas shifting to new and different paradigms are complemented by the obvious event of passing from the second millennium to the third in the year 2000. Since then, not only have post-modern ideas been given better audience, but a whole attitude of listening to and welcoming ‘the new’ has allowed many previous muted voices to now be heard. Such ideas now being voiced include: 1. People in society – from the local to the global – can help themselves and help each other to improve their well-being, as they define it; this is what I mean by development. 2. All individuals have equal rights and freedoms to promote their own and others’ development irrespective of age, physical ability, gender, and ethnicity. 3. Sustained and sustainable development is dependent on the practice of science, that is, knowledge based on the discovery of what is objectively real. (Eyben 2004:174-175) For the specific concern of development in Muslim Mindanao, the creation of BIMP EAGA serves as a concrete response to such an abstract desire to localize resources and ways to solve development problems so as to position oneself better into the globalizing network of the new millennial paradigm of interdependent economies and states. This stands in contrast to the creation of the ARMM which, as time now tells, seems to have been set up more as a ‘smokescreen’ for the GRP to continue its national integration policies while giving the illusion of autonomy and greater local control to the Filipino Muslims under its structure. Interesting is the fact that the GRP was a primary host to the initial meetings and eventual set-up of BIMP EAGA in Manila in the early 1990s. Questions that remain for further study on this dialectic are: Does Malacañang really champion the idea of a stronger Mindanao in relation to other Malay Muslims in BIMP EAGA nations? Or, does Malacañang just hope that, somewhere along the line, it will contain and control the benefits of development that are promised and hoped for through this new ASEAN alliance?
  11. 11. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] [p364] Trauma versus ‘Resilience’ Without exaggeration or overstatement, war can said to be a major cause of trauma in a nation ravaged by the effects of that war, with all of the social and economic disruption in its wake. For the Filipino Muslims who hail from Mindanao, “the history of the Philippine sultanates has been one of war. If they were not fighting to extend their spheres of influence over neighboring non-Muslim peoples, they were up in arms against Spanish attempts to subjugate them” (Majul 1999:403). That “heritage” of these sultanates carried on into the ideals and strategies of the two Muslim rebel groups that reflected the desire to instill bangsamoro into Mindanao polity and society: the MNLF and the MILF. The main standard bearer of the contemporary Moro armed struggle, at least from 1972 to 1996, has been the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)…. In 1977, the failure of negotiations on the implementation of the Tripoli Agreement…led to a split in the MNLF…. [The other] declared itself a separate organization in March 1984, calling itself the Moro Islamic Liberation Front…. At least since the advent of the Estrada administration in 1998, the MILF has been the main standard bearer of Moro aspirations…. (Human Development Network 2005:66,70; italic and bold-letter emphasis in original) Again, taking into account worldview and ideological differences (as recounted in some of the dialectics already mentioned), tensions mounted into isolated incidences and escalated into conflicts and all-out war in both the early- to mid-1970s and the late-1990s. As an assessment, …in the long term, one effect of war has been to exacerbate some of the factors that led to conflict in the first place. It seems there is a vicious circle where poverty, government neglect and dispossession lead to civil and political conflict, which in turn increases poverty, makes it harder to provide government services, and leads to further dispossession as people are displaced from their land. Meanwhile, other forms of violence – competition between warlord politicians, localized resource conflicts, blood feuds and criminal activities – go unchecked and the warring parties collude with their perpetrators. (Concepcion et al. 2003:26) While “…the reality of [war] for people living in poverty produces a much broader range of economic and social effects…” (Agerbak 1996:28), in order for the victims of conflict to cope, and move on in whatever [p365] life is available to them, they must determine a new norm in their existence. This natural course of events following violence is often referred to as “resilience.” Individuals and their communities, including refugees and displaced persons, are thought to snap back like a compressed spring after the cessation of the overt trauma or repatriation or resettlement…. [The corollary idea of “recovery”] gives a more realistic assessment of actual reality; although most trauma survivors are working or struggling for work, they are doing so at great personal sacrifice. (Mollica 2004:112) Therefore, “resilience” or “recovery” – by whatever name it is best known – seeks to define a people who have been subjected to disruptive conflict in war or other social calamities. In the Mindanao context, this defines the bangsamoro movement, and the
  12. 12. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] ideal to stand up to non-Muslim aggression from within (settlers, lumad, etc.) and without (Filipinos from Visayas or Luzon, expatriates working for national integration, etc.). This is more of a philosophical dialectic because it is harder to quantify such a psychological phenomenon as “trauma” in the wake of violence and conflict displacing the indigenous Muslims from their Mindanao homeland. Researcher Neutrality versus Researcher Action (Energy) One final philosophical dialectic has to do with a cardinal principle of anthropology – “researcher neutrality.” The reason this even comes up in this discussion is because of the dialogue that development economists have with development anthropologists in regards to “keeping scientific” and “keeping neutral” in dealing with those who are to benefit from the development enterprise undertaken. This is an ethical dilemma that the field of anthropology has struggled with since the time of its inception. [T]he anthropologist’s ethical commitment to value neutrality made it difficult for us to take a prescriptive, action-oriented role vis-à-vis “our” people or “our” village. The dilemmas of whether one should attempt to dissuade parents from the cultural practice of disposing of one twin, or from subjecting their daughter to genital mutilation as part of her passage to womanhood, gave pause to anthropologists sensitive to the charge of ethnocentrism. In earlier days we were also dissuaded by the functionalist view of culture as having an internal logic which, if [p366] tampered with, would damage a larger functioning whole. (Racelis 2004:141) In lieu of one of the dialectics discussed earlier, in which it was stated that globalizing influences smothering and circumventing all local cultural influences in Muslim Mindanao is a fallacy, this seeming ethical dilemma no longer has the power to paralyze effective anthropological research as it had done in the past. Indeed, Racelis traces another path of anthropological research and action from Alejo’s original paper (which has since become Alejo 2000) in order to alert other researchers to the need for further study in this dialectic: Fr. Albert Alejo’s work among the Manobos of Mount Apo in Mindanao illustrates how an anthropologist through collaborative research with the people can help them re-analyze and revitalize significant aspects of their lives. He describes how Mount Apo Manobos have generated new social movements through their kodpotongkooy – continuous and shared discussions of their history, legends and celebrations that have rekindled their cultural energies. (Racelis 2004:148; italics in original) With regards to Muslim Mindanao, one expatriate researcher comes close to Alejo’s level of ‘action anthropology’ in writing and recording ethnohistories – in this case, it is McKenna’s ethnohistory of Magindanaons in and around Cotabato City: My intentions in writing the book were varied, ranging from an effort to contribute to general political theory to a desire to chronicle the life of a particular Philippine Muslim community. But none was more strongly felt than my intention to document the extraordinary sacrifices made by ordinary Muslim fighters and supporters of the Bangsamoro movement in their struggle to preserve their cultural traditions, obtain social justice, and gain the right to determine their own political identity. (McKenna 1998:xii)
  13. 13. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] Despite the biases of past paradigms in the discourses of development (even in Muslim Mindanao), recent theory and practice by development anthropologists has given more credence to not only researcher action, but also action by the people to whom the development enterprise is directed. [p367] Although many governments and universities still resist placing information under the control of ordinary people, judging the practice to be not only unorthodox and unscientific but even dangerous to social stability and power relationships, participatory research is now becoming an important part of the development scene (Racelis 2004:140). As has been noted in other sources, especially by Alejo (2000) and Uphoff (1996), this dialectic will continue to generate more heat than light until the development discourse passes from the paradigms of old to the paradigms of the new in regular fashion. It can only be hoped that such a volatile dialectic on the abstract can translate into constructive, concrete action – worthy of the goals that all those in development are aiming to see. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE ANALYSIS The current situation befalling government and non-government agencies alike in Muslim Mindanao, therefore, is one which cannot be reduced or generalized, which characterizes paradigms of development practices for the first forty years of Bretton Woods institutions. Reductionism and generalization is easy to do, easy to understand, and – often – easy to justify. Realizing that these only form one side in the discussion of development, even in the Muslim Mindanao context, slows our reaction so as not to rush to judgment in order to find the “quick and easy” solutions to the apparent problems at hand. While some will curse these dialectics and rant about ‘Why does there have to be another side?’ ‘Why can it not be simpler than this?’ etc., others will welcome these as the gift that they are in attaining a more equitable and full understanding of “development” and how it will not only “benefit” (according to whose definition?), but also “affect” (how and to what degree?), those to whom the enterprise and initiatives are directed to in the first place. This, then, is but an introduction to a necessary and ongoing examination of these dialectics in Mindanao context which help to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of over-all development, its discourses, and its service to man in various and complex societies and cultures around the world. [p368] ACKNOWLEDGMENT Sincere thanks and gratitude goes to Father Albert Alejo, Ph.D., for his helpful insights and stimulating musings on the philosophy of the social sciences over coffee in the Loyola Residence cafeteria on the campus of Ateneo de Davao University.
  14. 14. Williams, Mark S. 2007. Dialectics in Discourses of Development in Muslim Mindanao. Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 35(4):350-372. [Page numbers in bold-lettering ‘as published’] ENDNOTES 1 “The question arises of just how accurate and effective the applied [anthropological] methods are…. The ethnographer may miss an important factor that just has not occurred during his stay, or oversimplify an uncertain situation while acquiring a cultural competence. It is a truism, but if you want a clear understanding on an issue, questions have to be asked either in many contexts and places, or just once: in between there is confusion” (Clarke 2004:103-104). 2 BIMP EAGA is an acronym meaning, “The Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, East ASEAN Growth Area…” (Concepcion, et al, 2003:21). REFERENCES CITED Agerbak, Linda 1996 “Breaking the cycle of violence: doing development in situations of conflict,” in Commins, Stephen (ed.), Development in States of War. pp. 26-32. Oxford: Oxfam. Alejo, Albert E. 2000 Generating Energies in Mount Apo: Cultural Politics in a Contested Environment. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press. Clarke, Graham E. 2004 “Anthropological Field Methods and Development in Asia,” in Kikuchi, Yasushi (ed.), Development Anthropology: Beyond Economics. pp. 68- 107. Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publishers. Concepcion, Sylvia, Larry Digal, Rufa Guiam, Romulo de la Rosa and Mara Stankovitch 2003 Breaking the links between economics and conflict in Mindanao. London: International Alert. [p369] Dahl, Gudrun 2004 “Educational Goals in Development Anthropology,” in Kikuchi, Yasushi (ed.), Development Anthropology: Beyond Economics. pp. 219-239. Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publishers. Dalpino, Catharin E. 2003 Separatism and Terrorism in the Philippines: Distinctions and Options for US Policy (Testimony – House International Relations Committee). Washington, D.C: The Brookings Institution. Davies, Gloria and Chris Nyland 2004 Views of Globalization, Empire and Asia: An Introduction. In Globalization in the Asian Region: Impacts and Consequences. Gloria Davies & Chris Nyland, eds. pp. 1-16. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
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