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Affect and History in Ninotchka Rosca’s

State of War


indigenous tradition “is a person who is gifted to heal the spirit

and the body; the one who serves the community through her role

as a folk therapist, wisdom-keeper and philosopher; the one who

provides stability to the community’s social structure; the one who

can access the spirit realms and other states of consciousness and

traffic easily in and out of these worlds; the one who has vast

knowledge of healing therapies” (as cited in Strobel, 2010: 1). For

critics Leny Mendoza Strobel and others, excavating and invoking

the precolonial indigenous matriarchal cultural tradition serves to

offer an alternative consciousness to that shaped by the colonizers.

Specifically, Strobel highlights a kind of indigenous consciousness

rooted in the body. Strobel believes that the body is the site where

the trauma of colonization registers, but it is also the place that the

residual memories of precolonial cultural practices are stored


Strobel, 2010: 5-6)

. Katrin De Guia, on the other hand, teases

out a “personhood” theory from Babaylan myths that opens up the

possibility to see the body not just as the vessel that contains

residual cultural memories, but a passage whose function is fulfilled

only through its connection with the other bodies. As De Guia

observes: “the shared self of



Pakataog Filipino.

Beating at its core, shared humanness regulates the life-blood of the



, the central value of personhood, builds a bridge

between the innermost core of one person to anyone


including total stranger” (2010: 90).

However, when the community of precolonial indigenous

matriarchs no longer exists, the practice of interpersonal

connection is disrupted. On one level, the connections among

native women are disrupted by colonialism; on another level, the

“persons” in the interpersonal alliance are contaminated by their

encounters with colonial force relations. For the interpersonal

connections to be reestablished requires chance encounters in

which women alienated from their original matriarchal culture can

be shaped and made to reemerge through the


of encountering

each other. That is to say, there is no preexisting “native women”