CFP: "500 Years of Colonialism and Resistance in the Philippines" (Virtual, April 23-24, 2021)

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Call for Papers
March 5, 2021
United States
Subject Fields: 
Asian American History / Studies, Asian History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Southeast Asian History / Studies, Spanish and Portuguese History / Studies
Call for Papers: Mactan500 Virtual Conference April 23-24, 2021


Organizers - The NYU Global Philippine Studies Forum, the Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies, and Alon: Journal for Filipinx American and Diasporic Studies (e-journal:


Sponsors - Sulo: the Philippine Studies Initiative at NYU, NYU Department of History, and the NYU Portuguese and Spanish Students Organization.




The year 2021 marks the 500th anniversary of the rise and spread of Western civilization made possible by Spanish and Portuguese explorers seeking to open global trade routes. From 1519 to 1521, Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet of five ships passed underneath South America to sail over what would later be called the Pacific Ocean, eventually arriving on the island of Guam and then the Philippines. This historic westward journey resulted in the first circumnavigation of the earth, later completed by Juan Sebastian Elcano, and, in many ways, facilitated new trade relationships that linked old and new worlds, braided imperial centers with distant colonies, and fueled European worldwide expansion that was to last for more than four centuries.


From another perspective, however, the year 1521 commemorates both the first recorded arrival of Europeans in the Philippine archipelago as well as the defeat of the colonizing Spanish forces against Mactan Island’s Datu Lapulapu and his warriors. On March 16, 1521, an expedition sponsored by the king of Spain and led by the Portuguese navigator Magellan began searching for a westward route to the East Indies. They reached Guam and brushed by Samar before settling on the island of Homonhon. Magellan befriended the local rajahs there and converted their people into Christianity. But a month later, Magellan was met with resistance by Lapulapu, whose troops overwhelmed him and his men in a battle that ultimately led to his death. Otherwise known as the Battle of Mactan, this event resulted in a Spanish retreat that delayed colonization for 44 years, when Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived in Cebu to become the first governor of the Spanish East Indies. It likewise marks the beginning of island resistance against European conquest and colonization that culminated in 1898 with the formal end of Spanish rule as a result of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine revolution.


How do we commemorate these events in the present? What should be the overarching narrative of these histories? Who are its winners and who are its losers? Should this history emphasize a feat of global navigation, or local resistance against overwhelming odds? Should we celebrate the origins and legacies of globalization? Or must we recognize instead the beginning of island conquest by Europeans that was to last for more than 300 years? What do we want to celebrate on this anniversary? What is its significance in the lives of Filipinxs and their colonizers today?


We invite the submissions of 250-word abstracts for essays that reflect on, criticize, or celebrate our theme, “500 years of global navigation and (anti)conquest,” with the parentheses around “anti” highlighting as well as recognizing the ambiguities and ongoing questions related to our collective memories of colonization and the resistances forged against it. We welcome diverse forms and narratives of engagement to provide spaces within which we can collectively ruminate on such a fraught set of histories of global navigation, conquest, and anti-conquest that arrive not at a singular, unitary, and stable set of answers and solutions to our historical reckonings, but to identify, recognize, and affirm the complex, dynamic, and tentative ways in which we transact with our community’s pasts, presents, and futures.


Deadline for Abstracts: March 5, 2021 

-       Send 250-word abstracts along with your name, email, and institutional affiliation (if applicable), to

-       Once accepted, presenters should be prepared to submit full papers of 3,000 to 5,000 words by Friday, April 2.


Optional: Submit your conference paper to Alon!


Presenters are encouraged to submit their conference papers to Alon: Journal for Filipinx American and Diasporic Studies for publication in their special issue on Magellan. All submissions to Alon must adhere to the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style and their official submission policies. Papers may be expanded up to a maximum length of 11,000 words. All submissions will undergo a peer-review process. Please send any queries regarding submission to Alon to or Papers may be submitted here by clicking the orange “submit” button in the top right corner. (Due by Friday, April 2)