Theoretical Reflections on Case Studies from the Lowland, Christianized Philippines
Keywords:agency, audiences, interpretation, the Philippines, post-structuralism, religious texts
In this essay I argue for a shift away from the study of texts in the study of religions in order to facilitate a move towards the critical study of audiences and interpretive communities. Through an analysis of historical and contemporary materials relating to the lowland Christianized Philippines, I suggest that the meaning of Christianity and Christian texts and symbols in the Philippines has always been mediated by culturally and historically located audiences and interpreters. As such, in order to understand the transmission and authorization of Christian "truth" in the archipelago, special attention must be paid to the creative and agentive forces unintentionally unleashed by mission, colonialism and on-going processes of modernization and globalization. In the concluding part of the essay I raise some general questions and problems arising from this attentiveness to audiences and interpretive communities.
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