Sandurot festival as mugna : exploring modernity and belonging through the civic festival

  • Lady Flor Niñal PARTOSA

Student thesis: PhD Thesis (Lingnan)


Focusing on the Sandurot Festival organized by the City of Dumaguete in the Philippines, my study explores the process of embodying local identity as site to actualize modernity. To highlight this collaborative, creative, and often contentious process, I put forward the concept of mugna (a Cebuano word which means to create) to examine how social actors (such as festival organizers, cultural workers, and artists) configure nodes of belonging to the time and space of the city by engaging with notions of tradition, authenticity, progress, and development. As Cultural Studies stresses the significance of radical contextuality, I examine in this project the problem-spaces of modernity and belonging to investigate how they constitute the conjuncture wherein the performance practice of the civic festival emerges as mugna. In this light, I adapt Diana Taylor’s performance paradigm to approach the festival as a scenario in interrogating how and why local identity is performed. With this approach, I historicize the festival by examining its situatedness within nation-building and city-making policies and institutional directions (discussed mainly in Chapters One and Two). I further probe its embodied practice by analyzing the repeated but reconfigured corporeal forms and exploring the involvement of social actors in the corporeal practices of festivity (examined closely in Chapters Three, Four, and Five).

Borrowing from the insights of performance studies and critical ethnography, I aim to show that through this process of mugna, the festival unfolds in a scenario of rediscovery where social actors playfully embody and reinvent the ‘folk’ and the past through networks of creative collaboration to transmit knowledge about Dumaguete. Thus, the festival as mugna, is produced by and produces attachment to the locality through various social actors’ embodiment of their ‘modern desire’ for the city life, in the process that invokes their local identity and associated civic claims to urban space. I conclude that the festival as mugna enhances our understanding on the configurations of modernity, with how social actors fulfill their individual and collective aspirations for the city and their practices of belonging in it, by determining how the city is remembered, lived, and aspired through the Sandurot Festival.
Date of Award8 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lingnan University
SupervisorChing Kiu Stephen CHAN (Supervisor) & Soo Ryon YOON (Supervisor)

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