‘God Knows Hudas Not Pay’: The Trickster Motif in Filipino Popular and Performance Culture

Jennifer Decolongon
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A central figure in oral and literary folk traditions across many cultures, the trickster is a boundary-crossing archetype, a complex personality whose appetite for mischief-making, cheating, lying, sneaking and buffoonery signals the destructive and transformative forces at play within the cosmos. Ambivalent and amoral, trickster humour is the humour of carnival, of the lower bodily stratum. For Bakhtin, such moments of Rabelasian misrule are moments of popular revolt against hierarchy and order. Building on this notion of trickster humour as a liminal device that enables resistance and subversion, I explore the trickster motif in a range of Filipino popular and performance texts to show how the trickster and features thereof can be read as a trustworthy aspect of the Filipino Nationalist Imaginary. Drawing on contemporary work on the sociology of trust as well as on postcolonial theatre and literary theoretical work on dialogism, performativity and the role of the popular in the formation of imagined communities, I argue that trickster manipulation forces a collective, metatextual spectatorial or readerly confrontation and negotiation with complex questions of political, social and cultural trust that are always already overlaid by colonial and postcolonial disciplinary regimes.

Keywords: Philippine Drama and Performance, Philippine Popular Culture, Trickster Figure, Diasporic and Exilic Literature, Colonial and Postcolonial Discourses of Identity, Postcolonial Ressentiment
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies, Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication, Ethnicity, Difference, Identity, Immigration, Refugees, Race, Nation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Jennifer Decolongon

PhD candidate, Department of English with Cultural Studies and the School of Creative Arts, The University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Jennifer Decolongon is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and the School of Creative Arts at The University of Melbourne. Her research examines national identity formation in Philippine English-language drama and performance. Born and raised in Manila, she first began working in Philippine theatre at age 14 and was the youngest actor to be listed in the first National Directory of Professional Artists published by the Cultural Centre of the Philippines in 1980. She completed professional training at the Victorian College of the Arts School of Drama in Melbourne in 1991. After working in the youth and community theatre sector for a number of years, she returned to part-time study at The University of Melbourne to complete a BA (Honours) and now juggles PhD candidature with a full-time research administration role in the tertiary education sector.

Ref: H06P0501