Sex and the missionary position: The grammar of Philippine colonial sexualities as a locus of translation

Marlon James Sales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The written history of Hispanic Philippines is a story wrought in translation. Colonial accounts about this Southeast Asian archipelago attempted to make sense of its people and their cultures by translating them for a European readership in a period that spanned more than three centuries. While there were indeed a number of colonial administrators, travellers and other lay chroniclers who mentioned the country in their writings, it is in the texts penned by missionary priests that we find the earliest and most extensive intent to systematize the understanding of Filipinos on the basis of their languages and customs. From the very beginning of Spain s colonial expansion in Asia in the 1500s until the last year of the Empire in 1898 when the Philippines was finally ceded to the United States, members of various religious orders wrote histories that recounted how their brothers in the cloth preached the Christian doctrine to different ethnolinguistic groups in the country and the rest of the Asian continent. They similarly wrote grammars and dictionaries, the primary purpose of which was to help ministers in the administration of the sacraments and rituals of the Roman Church in the islands many vernaculars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131 - 147
Number of pages17
JournalTranscultural: a journal of translation and cultural studies
Volume7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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