Events: Kritika Kultura Lecture Series presents Vicente L. Rafael on “Witnessing as Mourning: Photographing the Philippine Drug War”

August 07, 2018

Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University—in cooperation with the Department of Philosophy (AdMU) and Ateneo de Manila University Press—will host a lecture by Vicente L. Rafael. The lecture—titled “Witnessing as Mourning: Photographing the Philippine Drug War” is on Aug. 30, 2018, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., at Faber Hall 302, Ateneo de Manila University. The event is open to the public.

About the lecture

In this presentation, I inquire into one of the earliest responses to the war on drugs: the courageous work of photojournalists. In the context of the drug war, how does photojournalism become a kind of advocacy by becoming a mode of mourning? How is trauma and witnessing braided together in the experience of photographers covering war? What is the role of the camera and what are the ambivalent effects of the technical and aesthetic imaging of the dead and their survivors? What is the fate of photographic images once they travel beyond the control of the photographers? For example, converted into commodities, what happens to them when they circulate in the global mediascape and rendered into items for the daily consumption of anonymous viewers? And among families of the victims, how is the dead remembered in ways that elude photographic capture?

About the lecturer

Vicente L. Rafael (AdMU class of 1977) is the Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the author of several works on the cultural history and politics of the Philippines, including Contracting Colonialism, White Love and Other Events in Filipino History, The Promise of the Foreign and Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language Amid Wars of Translation, all published by Duke University Press and co-published by Ateneo de Manila University Press. He also wrote the Introduction to the recent collection of Nick Joaquin's stories, The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic (Penguin Classics).

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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