Events: Kritika Kultura Lecture Series presents Anna Alves and Zachary Frial

April 04, 2019

Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University will host a research forum with Anna Alves and Zachary Frial (US Fulbright Scholars 2018-2019). The forum is in cooperation with the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF, also known as the Fulbright Commission in the Philippines). The forum is titled “Artistic Transmissions and Geographies in Transnational Filipino Cultural Production” and will be held on Monday, April 22, 2019, 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at CTC 307, Ateneo de Manila University. The event is open to the public.

About the forum

This joint presentation will focus on transnational Filipino cultural production in literature and visual art. 

Literature: “Two Novels, Two Writers: Global Imaginations and Identity in Transpacific Filipino Writing in English”

Filipino migrations have increased to all parts of the globe, especially closer to the end of the 20th century, yet over 3.5 million of the 10.2 million Filipinos living overseas are settled in the United States. To investigate identity, culture, and aesthetics within transpacific Filipino writing in English in the particular context of US and Philippine literary relations, is to track a more comprehensive milieu of individual movement, commuting values, and developing poetics that push at the modern boundaries of nation, citizenship, and form. 

A focus on literary aesthetics and the socio-historical context of Filipino imagination(s) at the intersections of Philippine Literature in English (in the Philippines) and Filipino American Literature (in the United States)—two literary traditions often considered separate, yet continuously overlapping—yields reconceived cultural sites in academic scholarship, while literary creativities continue to proliferate in both countries. 

As writers, critics, and mentors, N. V. M. Gonzalez and Edith L. Tiempo seeded creativities back and forth across the Pacific that have been germinating for quite some time. This evolving research examines how these two writers conceive of transpacific Filipino American identity in two novels [Gonzalez’s The Bamboo Dancers (1959) and Tiempo’s His Native Coast (1979)], within shifting intellectual discourses around nation and cultures, as well as how their work was enabled by systemic creative resources such as universities and philanthropic foundations. 

Visual Art: “World-class Desires, Holographic Cities, and the Mural in the Age of Instagram”

Though street art culture has existed in Manila since the Martial Law period (especially in the form of protest art), it has now reached a point of legitimacy amongst government and corporate bodies. In subdivisions, malls, and townships, along highways and underpasses, entities like MMDA, Ayala, and Megaworld are commissioning street artist and graphic designers to decorate their walls, folding mural art into the visual landscape of Metro Manila. 

In enclaves like BGC and Eastwood, corporations have sponsored mural art as a way not only to attract potential consumers but to tap into the “global,” following trends that would brand them as “world-class.” These townships are virtually indistinguishable from cities in the “First World,” due in large part to their well-lit streets, American and European stores and restaurants, open public spaces (with greenery), and skyscrapers. The incorporation of art into these developments is another way in which they attempt to approximate and emulate the “global city.” 

Developments like Eastwood and BGC are emblematic of Baudrillard’s holographic city, their very existence premised on the masking and purging of the “real” that lies outside its manicured streets. The new corporate murals reflect this—they are more style than substance, backdrops to decorate the virtual worlds of social media profiles. The artificiality of these murals goes entirely against the philosophies behind street art, a form of rebellion against corporate and state ownership of public space. However, through this corporate co-optation, street art is becoming increasingly folded into these new narratives of development and the creation of “global cities.” 

About the US Fulbrighters

Anna Alves is a doctoral candidate in the American Studies PhD program at Rutgers University at Newark, where she also earned a MFA in Creative Writing. She holds a MA in Asian American Studies and BA in English and History from UCLA. Her research interests include hip-hop aesthetics, sports histories, US cultural community development, American cultural studies, creative writing studies, transnational Filipino Studies, Asian American Studies, and Filipino American literature. A past PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, she has attended writing residencies at Hedgebrook, Voices of Our Nation’s Arts (VONA), and the Kundiman Asian American Literary Workshop. Her writing appears in academic and literary journals, several anthologies, online zines and an encyclopedia. As a Fulbright scholar in the Philippines, Anna studies transpacific literary relations in Filipino fiction writing in English, in and between the United States and the Philippines, and its associated cultural politics of craft and aesthetics.

Zachary Frial is a recent graduate of the Edmund J. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Their studies focus on postcolonial queer theory, Philippine Studies, transgender necropolitics, and visual culture. Their senior honors thesis, “Transgender, Transnational, Transpinay: Jennifer Laude and Trans Necropolitics in the Philippines,” analyzed the necropolitical landscapes that surrounded and led up to Jennifer Laude’s murder. As a Fulbright scholar in the Philippines, Zachary is currently studying street art in Metro Manila and how the medium has been co-opted for state and corporate infrastructure development projects. They will continue this project as a PhD student at UCLA Department of Geography this coming fall 2019. 

About Kritika Kultura

Kritika Kultura is acknowledged by a host of Asian and Asian American Studies libraries and scholarly networks, and indexed in the MLA International Bibliography, Arts and Humanities Citation Index (Clarivate), Scopus, EBSCO, the Directory of Open Access Journals, and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP). For inquiries about submission guidelines and future events, visit or email

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