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political turmoil of the Philippine’s precipitous emergence into

modern nationhood.



State of War

, her debut novel, the

compression of multifarious colonial history is marked through the

delineation of the scattered family sagas surrounding the three

major characters whose stories are connected, not by a conscious

tracing of family genealogy, but by a shared experience of violence

brought about by the historical conditions of colonialism and state

oppression. It is my contention that in reconstructing the colonial

history of the nation with detailed accounts of these characters’

intimate journeys through different periods of colonization, Rosca

is going against the grain of postcolonial historiographical practices

commonly adopted by postcolonial writers. As Marxist historian

Harry Harootunian observes, “when history in [postcolonial

societies in Asia] was written to bridge the great ‘epistemic

violence’ caused by capitalism and colonialism, it was invariably

bonded to the nation form . . . or the idea of the nation yet to

come after the demise of colonialism, thus replicating established

historiographical practice in EuroAmerica” (2004: 182). In such a

historiographical practice, nation and narration converge to unify

different local places, homogenize diverse cultural traditions, and

attain a fixed identity rooted in the imagined community of the

nation. As a result, postcolonial historical writing largely

established a monumental past of the nation that erased the lived

reality of the everyday of the masses. Historiography as such is

concerned with the past of the nation as a complete entity, which

leads to structural representation of known events and the

production of a systematic knowledge of the past. To break the

universalistic claim of historical narrative, Harootunian proposes

to attend to

the present

of history by taking everyday life as the

method to reconfigure historiography. The present of history


Rosca’s article “Myth, Identity and the Colonial Experience,” emphasizes the

synchronicity of history, “where the aural and visual emanations of the past,

the present, and the future are said to be trapped within the confines of a

finite universe” (1990: 241).