January 16, 2021
Prof. Maria Luisa T. Reyes, University of Santo Tomas, guest editor
Assoc. Prof. Mary Grace R. Concepcion, University of the Philippines Diliman, guest associate editor
Edel E. Garcellano in First Person, Plural (1987) uses the generic terms “essay” and “reportage” to refer to a particular mode and method of critical writing and thinking, which are usually reserved for the term Critique. In his book, it underpins his critical reading strategies: ideological deconstruction, textual subversion, filmic incursion, praxiological information.
An award-winning writer, critic, and activist, Garcellano, who died in April 2020, taught at the University of the Philippines and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He had been a major influence among his university students who, in turn, have influenced their own students in the country and abroad. His blog, “The Works of Edel Garcellano,” continues to be read avidly by his former students, colleagues, friends and fellow-travelers. It is to his memory that a special section of Kritika Kultura is dedicated.
From Kritikē to Critique to Kritika
Critique (kritikē), while sounding contemporary is actually a very old concept. It concerns the value of something through the “the faculty of judgment” in Ancient Greek. Through its French version, Critique means “the art of criticism,” which in a way retains the Greek sense of kritike tekhne or "the critical art."
A number of critics have analyzed the function and significance of Critique. Judith Butler in “What is Critique? An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue” argues that Critique is “always a critique of some instituted practice, discourse, episteme, institution.” Jurgen Habermas has also argued, as emphasized by Rick Roderick in Habermas and the Foundations of Critical Theory (1986), that Critique ought to allow for a questioning of foundations and denaturalizing of society’s hierarchy from a critical perspective that renders the naturalized world visible. In addition, Michel Foucault insists on questioning the limits of ways by which knowledge is acquired uncritically.
From the perspective of Philippine literary and cultural studies, Critique can be understood in the context of the term kritika. In “Magaling Datapoua: Ang Dating at Galing sa Estetika ng Ating Panitikan,” Philippine studies scholar, literary and cultural critic, Bienvenido Lumbera traces the emergence in the country of what is now called kritika as a critical category in the country at the nexus of native and foreign practices of criticism, and the theoretical traditions and assumptions that had given shape to such practices. He cites the case of the Spanish missionary, Francisco Blancas de San Jose, in Memorial de la vida Cristiana en lengua (1605), who had written a poem in Tagalog deploying the Spanish form and versification (romance) instead of the seven-syllable ones that the natives had traditionally followed (such as in the tanaga). Lumbera explains, “Sa pag-aakala marahil na hahangaan at tutularan ang kanyang katha, ipinabasa niya ito sa isang katutubo” (“Expecting his work to be admired and emulated, he asked a native to read it”). The native “critic” is quoted as having commented in response, “Magaling datapuoa hindi tola” (“Good but not a poem”), proceeding, it seems, from a critical attitude that usually underpins Critique. Moreover, taking up from the epistemological assumption of situated knowledge in the practice of postcolonial Critique (as opposed to the universalizing dictums of 16th century colonial and missionary purposes and classical rules that San Jose’s poem had followed), Lumbera posits Critique’s possibilities and limits in terms of appreciation, interpretation, and judgment—the classical hallmarks of European critica against the Tagalog’s kritika.
Kritika in Tagalog derives from the Spanish critica bringing with the term the same ambiguity in the European sense of “critique” whose meaning ranges from the descriptive and analytical (appreciation) to the normative and critical (evaluation). Kritika in Tagalog, refers today either to the sense of pansin or puna. While the two senses overlap in actual everyday use, Tagalog traditionally delineates between the two senses in which critica is largely understood in the West, namely pansin, which specifically means to notice, remark, recognize; and puna which means to comment, fault-find, censure. Used in contemporary context, pansin and puna could be deployed interchangeably or finely delineated to mean either as praise (puri) or dispraise (pintas). It could be used similarly in specialist disciplinary discourses such as in literary and cultural criticism—kritisismo—n the sense of either puri or pintas, or both. In particular, for example, a (literary) critique which is also called panunuring pampanitikan in its various modes becomes a kind of transdisciplinary Critique in ways that it is able to exhibit being techne and praxis.
The Kritika Kultura special section is interested in scholarly papers that exhibit a response to any of the following questions: What is the relevance of Critique today? What kind of conception of Critique in relation to history could engage with our contemporaneity? How can Critique effectively address contemporary issues? What must Critique exhibit to continue to be vital? Is there a need to develop a new theoretical lexicon and novel forms of practice for Critique to retain its radical edge? While Critique has also been appropriated by those who espouse views of the dominant power, how can Critique remain an instrument for resistance?
It is open to a broad range of methodological approaches, theoretical and critical positions, and objects of study that evidence ways by which Critique becomes a dynamic, resilient, effective, and relevant mode and method of resistance to dominant discourses, forms, power, institutions, and structures in the struggle to imagine and help build a more equitable society. In addressing specific issues, themes, and concerns by analyzing particular objects, personages, events or texts, your submission is expected to exhibit the power of Critique in relation to social, political, and intellectual movements across disciplinary borders. In other words, the submissions are expected to show how Critique can help:
a) fight the ideological deceptions that render the domination of the majority of the people possible,
b) contest self-evident representations of society,
c) acknowledge the possibility of other alternative representations,
d) imagine and shape an alternative world.
Contributions are invited from the perspective of literary and cultural studies and might include, but will not be limited to, the following topics:
a) Literary and cultural practices, establishments and/or canon-making
b) The radical tradition in Philippine art and literature
c) Society and social movements
d) Political discourse in aesthetics
e) Marxist theory and praxis
Contributors should first send an abstract (500 words maximum) and bionote (150 words maximum). After the abstract is approved, contributors should send the full essay (7,000 to 8,000 words, MLA 8th ed. format). All essays will undergo double blind peer review.
Send abstracts, essays, and inquiries to Maria Luisa T. Reyes (email@example.com) and Mary Grace R. Concepcion (firstname.lastname@example.org), cc: email@example.com.
Indicate in subject heading: Edel Garcellano Forum Kritika.
Deadline for abstract submission: 5 April 2021.
Approval of abstracts: 4 May 2021.
Deadline for the submission of the full paper: 31 September 2021.
Target date of publication: February 2022.
Adorno, Theodor W. “Cultural Criticism and Society.” Prisms. MIT P, 1984.
Butler, Judith. “What is Critique? An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue.” https://transversal.at/transversal/0806/butler/en
Fassin, Didier. “The Endurance of Critique.” 24 Jan. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1177/146349961668815
Fassin, Didier and Bernard E. Harcourt, editors. A Time for Critique. Columbia UP, 2019
Garcellano, Edel E. First Person, Plural. January 1, 1987.
Lumbera, Bienvenido. “Magaling Datapoua: Ang Dating at Galing sa Estetika ng Ating Panitikan.” https://tomas.ust.edu.ph/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/18-Magaling-Datapoua-Ang-Dating-at-Galing-sa-Estetika-ng-Ating-Panitikan-Bienvenido-Lumbera.pdf
Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Rev. ed. Oxford UP, 1976, 1983.
Roderick, Rick. Habermas and the Foundations of Critical Theory. Macmillan Pub., 1986.