This article reads Nick Joaquin’s 1983 novel Cave and Shadows alongside his persistent engagement with Filipino identity and history to argue that an investigation of Philippine historiography reveals the colonial entrapments of Filipino subjectivity. A mystery novel set in the period immediately preceding Ferdinand Marcos’s 1972 declaration of martial law, it contextualizes Marcos authoritarianism within the scope of post-World War II concerns about national politics in the wake of independence. It also simultaneously grapples with overarching ideas about the legacies of colonial conquest and their effects on the Filipino common sense. Jack Henson’s traversals through Manila find him grappling with the quandary of “true Filipinoness,” a literary dilemma that reveals Joaquin’s investment in wrestling with claims to any inherent Filipino identity as a discursive exploration of the arc of Philippine history. Rather than adhere to Filipino subjectivity as a coherent, unproblematic social formation; the novel explores it as an episteme for locating and interrogating broader systems of governance and power. Such a paradigm offers modalities for contesting Marcos’s revisionist history projects. Such projects sought to recuperate Filipino identity from the dregs of a colonial past in order to celebrate its universal humanity in ways that aligned with the modernizing tactics of global development. 


Culture and History, cultural reform, historiography, national artist, The Woman Who Had Two Navels, nationalist epistemology

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)