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Affect and History in Ninotchka Rosca’s

State of War


encounter with force relations in the environment. The idea of

subject of becoming or affective subject is particularly relevant to

colonial and postcolonial conditions in the Philippines, for the

Filipino identity is hard to come by given the constant change of

rules and multiple dominations in any given historical period.

Filipino-American cultural critics such as Nick Joaquin and

Campomanes have observed that under the circumstances of

manifold colonization and exiles, the Filipino identity can be at

best “recognize[d] as a ceaseless process of Philippine-


[not Filipino


]” (as cited in Gonzalez & Campomanes, 1997:

85; emphases in the original). While the term “Philippine-

becoming” seems to address the lack of a stable identity for

Filipinos, it might well be taken as a condition for the production

of affective subjects who respond to the crisis of history and

improvise strategies of living in the historical present. The

condition of colonization, the constant change of rules by different

colonial powers and native resistance constitute forces in the milieu

that demand frequent and immediate responses from affective

subjects who are forced to become otherwise as they respond to,

and adapt themselves to, the crisis in the historical present. The

feelings of shame, fear, and betrayal can hence be seen as forces

that provide the subjects with an impetus to become otherwise.

II. Colonial Shame and the Resurgence of the


Taking my cue from Berlant and cultural theories of affect,

this paper will examine the affective history of the nation in


of War

through an investigation of the linkages among the

historical events, imperial intimate encounters, and the formation

of the affective subjects.

State of War

synchronizes the present, the

prehistory, and the colonial history by means of charting the family

sagas of the three major characters, Adrian Banyaga, Anna

Villaverde, and Eliza Hansen, during the Marcos regime, whose