"All His Instruments: Mary, Miracles, and the Media in the Catholic Philippines" by Deirdre Leong de la Cruz
Deirdre Leong de la Cruz
This dissertation documents and historicizes the modern efflorescence of devotion to the Virgin Mary in the Philippines, and attendant phenomena such as miracles and apparitions. Rather than argue that such revival constitutes sites of resistance to the social, political, and economic transformations wrought by modernity, I claim that in the Philippines, twentieth century Marianism and Marian phenomena are loci where one can see all the novelties putatively ushered in by secular modernity---new regimes of representation and politics, modes of subjectivity, changes in perception, and capacities of technology and the mass media---compellingly assert themselves.
Empirically, this ethnography focuses on modern appearances of the Virgin Mary and the devotional practices and communities that attend to them, analyzing these in conjunction with the rise of mass mediated practices and cultures. Mary is not a new face in the Philippines, however, but a long-present intercessor, and this study equally excavates from the colonial record instances where religious phenomena appear to anticipate a future of mass mediation. The overall consideration of modern Marian devotion and phenomena, finally, is carried out not solely in relation to the mass media, but within a vast constellation of mediating practices that include speech and various genres of writing, as well as those long germane to considering the anthropological object of religion: ritual, prayer, possession, and sacrifice.
Deeply imbricated in this history of modern forms of mediation in the Philippines is the consideration of Mary's enduring role as a divine protector. At another level, thus, this thesis is also a history of conflict and perceptions of danger in the Philippines, one produced by reading off the shields forged by Mary's protective or preemptive interventions, and by attending to when and where she appears and by whom she is invoked. Among this documentation of religion and media are repeat considerations of misfortune and danger, fear of the foreign, catastrophe, atrocity, and war, making this study as much a history of the 21st century global present as it is of Philippine modernity.