Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Vol 6, No 2 (2012)

Religion, Disaster, and Colonial Power in the Spanish Philippines in the Sixteenth to Seventeenth Centuries

Alvin Almendrala Camba
Issued Date: 6 Jul 2012


In the field of disaster studies, scholars have focused on the social construction of disasters in various historical periods, but they have not attended to the ways in which these social constructions were differentiated within the same period. During the Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the sixteenth to the seventeenth centuries, two types of disaster discourses existed. In ‘internal cases’, where Spanish elites had to deal with one another over issues of distribution of power, decision making capacity, and the allocation of resources, there were multiple and competing constructions of disasters. Conversely, in ‘external cases’, where the Spanish elites had to deal mainly with the ‘other’ (Filipinos) over issues such as colonization and Christianization, there was a convergence in the constructions of disasters, which facilitated conquest and the consolidation of power for the Spanish Crown. The act of interpreting disaster was intimately tied with the legitimation and exercise of power.

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DOI: 10.1558/jsrnc.v6i2.215


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