RCCAH Director Arriola presents paper at Memory Studies Conference in Madrid

UST Research Center for Culture, Arts and Humanities Director Prof. Joyce Arriola, Ph.D., and professor at the Faculty of Arts and Letters and the Graduate School, presented a paper during the 3rd Annual Memory Studies Conference held recently at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain (Universidad Complutense de Madrid). The conference addressed the theory and practice of the study of memory texts and performances from their historical and cultural perspectives.

Arriola’s paper titled “The Filipino Komiks-to-Film Genre as Memory Work: Lapu-Lapu (1954) and the ‘Third’ Imaginary” was presented under the panel ‘Memory Studies in Southeast Asian Contexts.’ The study tackled historical, comic book and filmic representations of both the Lapu-Lapu story and the first encounter between Spanish colonizers and the natives in 1521. It showed how historical facts are linked with the quasi-historical and the fictitious in order to produce a new imaginary. Created in 1950 by National Artist for Visual Art, Francisco Coching, the comic magazine serialization of Lapu-Lapu in Pilipino Komiks produced one of the most artful and beguiling iconographies connected to the said historical figure. The 1954 film adaptation by Lamberto Avellana, National Artist for Film, expanded the popular imaginary by rendering it into moving images and enhancing the iconography already made salient by the comic series.

The panel in which Arriola read her paper was the only one that addressed memory from the Southeast Asian perspective. She read her paper alongside panel chair, Dr. Jocelyn Martin of Ateneo de Manila University and Dr. Kar Yen Leong of Tamkang University. The more specific area of Arriola’s paper falls under mediality of memory and performativity of filmic memory, particularly the role of what Martin Lefevre refers to as “memoria” and “figura.” 

As an intersection between mediated memory and adaptation studies, the paper, according to Arriola’s abstract, addressed the following points of analysis: “1) The function of the historical record in the fictional rendering; 2) The role of fictionalizing act in rendering the historical event; 3) The conversation between the komiks source and the film adaptation in exploring the mediality and performativity of memory; and 4) The komiks-to-film adaptation as venue to create a ‘third’ imaginary, the historical record being first, the komiks second, and the film version third.”

The Memory Studies Conference is convened annually by the Memory Studies Association. The first conference was held in the Netherlands and the second was in Denmark. This year’s conference in Madrid was participated in by some 1,500 scholars and practitioners. The Universidad Complutense de Madrid was a fitting host to this conference, being a historic site of some of the most violent episodes of the Spanish Civil War, and being itself a storehouse of memory of the said country. 

Memory Studies conferences are interdisciplinary in nature and encourage discourses on the subject as this has been communicated or performed in various platforms and modalities and as these address the theory and politics particular to such.

Arriola’s participation in the conference was partly subsidized by the University of Santo Tomas and the Philippine Social Science Council.

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