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Figuring Catholicism: An Ethnohistory Of The Santo Niño De Cebu
Figuring Catholicism: An Ethnohistory Of The Santo Niño De Cebu
Category Religion
Publisher Ateneo Press
Author Julius J. Bautista
Pages 262pp
Dimension 6 x 9
Copyright 2010
Price US$ 38.95
 Bookpaper ISBN9715506120

This book is about a statue of Christ as a boy worshipped by millions of Filipinos from all walks of life. Today the Santo Niño –––said to be the same wooden figure brought to the islands by Ferdinand Magellan at the moment of his 1521 “discovery” of the Philippines––– is enshrined in a bullet-proof glass case in a Basilica that hosts throngs of devotees during its Friday novenas. The author combines ethnography with historiography and discourse analysis to study how our most prevalent assumptions about the figure are produced and disseminated. What ideas have sustained such assumptions after all this time? How did the figure become such a popular “national” treasure? To what can we attribute the Santo Niño’s appeal outside the official doctrines of the Catholic faith? This book looks at historical documents, popular songs, news articles, poems, and oral accounts to address such questions. In doing so, the book describes the contours of a “figured” Catholicism as the context in which we can think about the Santo Niño in ways we have not done before.

Julius J. Bautista’s study provides an innovative and challenging reading of the cultural beliefs and practices inspired by the Philippines’ most influential religious icon, the Santo Niño de Cebu. In his “refiguring” of the Santo Niño –––an analytical journey that addresses both ethnographic and discursive patterns of meaning-making––– Bautista shines new light upon the nature of Catholicism both inside Asia’s largest Christian nation, as well as beyond it. The study’s ambitious interdisciplinary approach opens up many new and intriguing avenues for further inquiry into contemporary religious life in the Philippines.

JULIUS J. BAUTISTA is Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Southeast Asian Studies Programme at the National University of Singapore, and holds a Visiting Research Fellowship at its Asia Research Institute. He is coeditor of Christianity and the State in Asia: Complicity and Conflict (2009). Bautista is an anthropologist with degrees from the Australian National University and the University of Sydney. He has published on religious practice in Southeast Asia, with focus on Christian iconography, religious piety, and the relationship between religion and politics.

( US$ 38.95 Bookpaper )

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