Blumentritt Beyond Rizal: Revisiting the Scholarship and Politics of a European Filipinist


Round Table


Session 4
Tue 16:30-18:00 REC A2.05


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The roundtable reexamines the life and work of Austrian-Bohemian scholar Ferdinand Blumentritt beyond his association with Filipino nationalist José Rizal. Without undermining the significance of their friendship, the participants explore both Blumentritt’s wider engagement and reception in the exchange of knowledge between Europe and Southeast Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The questions are multifaceted: What was the significance of the other scholarly and political connections Blumentritt cultivated? How did the Spanish and Americans of various political persuasions value, utilize, or dismiss his intellectual expertise? How were his writings received and assessed by scholars, propagandists, and imperialists? How do we view his place in the history of knowledge production, in fields such as ethnology, philology, folklore and the emergent Philippine studies?

By revisiting Blumentritt beyond Rizal, the roundtable considers politics and scholarship as distinct yet overlapping spheres of activity, in which Blumentritt’s position, by virtue of his expertise and political connection, made him an important voice in both areas. Ultimately, the roundtable uses the example of Blumentritt as a springboard to understand the relation of knowledge, politics and personal entanglements that complicates the frameworks of imperial and nationalist ideologies. This hopes to encourage conversations on similar scholars who, despite or because of their foreignness, informed people’s understanding of their history, culture and society.