By: Bonn Mendoza
The UP Alliance of Students Unified for Sociology in partnership with the UPLB Department of Social Sciences organized an academic forum entitled Cutting Edge Sociology: Opportunities and Possibilities of Emerging Sociological Research. The event was held on April 20, 2016 at the College of Arts and Sciences Annex 1as part of the UPLB CAS’ Social Science Month Celebration.
First to talk is Ms. April Porteria of the Center for Environmental Concerns. She discussed her paper on “Making Money Out of People’s Misery: Has Disaster Capitalism Taken Over Post-Haiyan Philippines?”. In her presentation, she explored Naomi Klein’s Disaster-Capitalism in the Philippine context and its applicability in the Philippine context. She stated that disasters in the Philippines are now becoming avenues for capitalism to gain new areas for profit-making which in turn becomes another vulnerability for Filipinos in post-disaster context. Ms. Porteria has argued that this condition does not show a break but instead a continuation of pervading social relations in the Philippines where rights give way to economic interests. However, this has been met with opposite forces from the population that seeks to re-appropriate space for the vulnerable.
Mr. Dakila Kim P. Yee, of the University of the Philippines –Visayas followed and presented his paper on “Constructing Reconstruction: Governmentality in post-Haiyan “risk-prone” areas in Tacloban City”. In his lecture, he utilized Foucault’s analytical framework of governmentality and how it applies in the reconstruction of disaster-ridden Tacloban city. According to him, overall, rationalities such as sustainable re-development, neo-liberal subjectivities, and aesthetics are being used in the reconstruction of Tacloban city. Furthermore, the victims are rendered governable through various techniques that define who ‘deserves’ aid.
Lastly, Ms. Raisa Tyfrom the University of Eastern Philippines, talked about Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, and how the prison system produce “docile bodies”. In her study, “Prisoner of the Soul: Imprisonment as Punishment”, she noted that power, in the form of punishment, has shifted from the state to formalized disciplinary institutions such as the prison. No longer are “bodies” publicly tortured and punished, the prison now has the power that disciplines the “souls” of individuals through all-encompassing mechanisms such as disciplinary routine activities and self-regulation (the possibility that you are being observed therefore you regulate yourself and others). Practices in the prison or the Panopticon develop “docile” bodies, individuals who are effective and productive before being released to society.
The three-hour event was attended by a number of students who came from sociology and various disciplines. After the presentation, questions regarding the relationship of theory and data in research, the similarities between capitalism and the penitentiary system, and the degrees in which disaster-capitalism can be seen during disasters were discussed among the participants.
As the organizer of the event, I was truly excited and looking forward for the talk. Each topic piqued a great deal of interest from me. I could only surmise that the crowd also felt the same as they eagerly listened to Ms. Porteria, Sir Yee, and Ms. Ty.
I had only attended a few conferences but this one is the most promising when it comes to linking theory to research. Theory-wise, Foucault’s concepts of governmentality and punishment are given new vitality in the way they are used in the research, illuminating contemporary social problems with theories of the past.
A relatively new concept to me, disaster-capitalism intrigued my thinking and made even clearer that capitalism can pervade human life even at its most terrible moments. I realize that the forum provided space not only for empty conversation but rather opened spaces for rational discourse which link micro-issues to macro-phenomenon. Realities in the Philippine context which were not commonly tackled in the classroom setting were being revealed. Perhaps this event made students more socially-aware and more inclined for research on new topics. As the event neared to its conclusion, I have appreciated Sociology even more than I do. The event had instilled to us that the variety of human experience could produce so much diversity that we could appreciate and pursue.
Download the presentations here
Making Money Out of People’s Misery: Has Disaster Capitalism Taken Over Post-Haiyan Philippines? April Porteria
Constructing Reconstruction: Governmentality in Post-Disaster Intervention in the Philippines. Dakila Kim P. Yee
Prisoner of the ‘Soul’: Imprisonment as Punishment. Raisa L. Ty