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The TWSC has a long tradition of research on critical political economy, development issues, democratization, and governance. Research is focused on the search for progressive discourses and alternative paradigms. Guided by the principles of participatory research, the main objectives of the Center's researches are to develop Third World perspectives on various issues and to translate knowledge generated in order to promote actions for change or to improve existing local actions. Central to this process of knowledge transformation is the role of social movements and civil society, which the Center works closely with.

Ongoing/Recent Research Projects

Mendiola: Memory and History of a Contested Space

The research serves as the second phase of the "Mendiola Narratives" project (see our "Completed Projects" page). The earlier project surfaced and recorded in audiovisual format the personal narratives of those who were once witnesses and participants to protest actions in Mendiola, the street that leads directly to the Malacanang Palace, the seat of the Philippine presidency. "Mendiola Narratives" made visible the Filipinos' refusal to forget the injustices suffered at the hand of its own government and the resolute stance that the Filipinos have taken to speak truth to power. The current project will re-read and reconstruct the narratives around the following major themes: constructing Mendiola as a space for contending the state, and memory and textual representations of Mendiola in the realm of memory and history.

For more information, please contact the coordinator.

Cybersex in the Anti-Development State: Labor Politics and Life Histories

This project aims to deepen public understanding of cybersex by situating this phenomenon in the intersection of the ICT economy, technology, and service work in the Philippines. By closely examining cybersex in two case study sites---Olongapo City, Zambales and Angeles City, Pampanga---the researchers probe on pressing concerns about the effects of capitalist-driven information technology on labor conditions and relations in the sex industry. This project was awarded funding by the International Development Research Centre-Singapore Internet Research Center's (IDRC-SIRC) Strengthening Information Society Research Capacity Alliance II Programme (SIRCA II) last 1 January 2012.

For more information, please contact the coordinator.

The UP Diliman Handbook on Academic and Authorial Integrity

This project deals with violations of academic and authorial integrity standards,particularly plagiarism. The project looks into transgressions of perceived standards and commonly understood values for the proper attribution of ideas. The objective of the research is to look at the institutional responses of the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman to plagiarism. The expected source of such records will be the cases brought before the Board of Regents (BOR) as recorded in the UP Gazette and records of other disciplinary and investigative bodies duly constituted by the University. The project will also study cases that were resolved within departments and colleges and have not reached the BOR. Key informants, including but not limited to people who were given verdict to plagiarism cases, will be interviewed. The research will establish the extent, variety, and severity of the supposed acts of plagiarism and how UP Diliman's responses to plagiarism committed by faculty members and students have evolved over time: from imposition of nonlegal, quasi-legal, to civil legal sanctions. Such data will then be read against existing legal, ethical, literary, and administrative discourses on plagiarism. The end product of the research is a handbook on academic and authorial integrity. In essence, this is a history of a concept and a practice embedded in the institutional history of UP Diliman.

For more information, please contact the coordinator.

Toxic Biopolitics: Tracing Risk Discourses in the Philippine Cosmetics Industry

This research aims to trace risk discourses that shape the contours of the Philippine cosmetics industry since the inception of a national regulatory framework in the 1960s, i.e., the Food and Drug Cosmetics Act. Methodology covers select textual discourses of the Philippine government, the private sector, and the mass media from the 1960s to the present. In expounding on the creation, maintenance, and transformation of risk discourses, the project aims to provide the initial bearings of unmasking the Philippine cosmetics industry's established rationality.

For more information, please contact the coordinator.

Plaza Miranda: A History of Violence, Memories, and Pursuits of Truth

Plaza Miranda is the site of three bloody events: the March 1947 assassination attempt on then president Manuel Roxas, the January 1971 Black Wednesday carnage, and the August 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing. The March 1947 event is hardly known. The January 1971 encounter between protesters and state agents that led to five deaths is seldom mentioned in existing discussions on Plaza Miranda. The August 21, 1971 bombing of the Liberal Party meting de avance that killed nine people and injured more than a hundred is the only one still being remembered and had found its way in history books and other studies on the Philippine left and Marcos' authoritarian rule. The study is an attempt to provide an answer to this differing hold of violent political events on the memories and histories of Plaza Miranda and to a greater extent, on the imaginary of the nation. By mapping the narratives of the witnesses, journalistic accounts, audiovisual recordings, scholarly studies, autobiographical recollections, the study will hopefully be able to show the boundaries where memories and histories, both personal and collective, blurs into the hazy terrain of the unremembered and unmarked; where entrenched accusations and unresolved deaths mark the limits of commemorations and hollow memorializations.

For more information, please contact the coordinator.

Cinemalaya and the Filmic Articulation of the "Filipino Experience"

The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival was introduced in 2005, with the twin goals of "[encouraging] the creation of new cinematic works by Filipino filmmakers--works that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity"--and "[invigorating] the Philippine filmmaking by developing a new breed of Filipino filmmakers." For the most part, Cinemalaya has succeeded in fulfilling these goals and has even been lauded as a key driving force behind the rejuvenated independent film industry, if not the entire local film industry. Though discussions have been lively over the issue of Cinemalaya's role within the local independent filmmaking industry, attention has been sorely lacking as to the purported content of Cinemalaya films--in other words, Cinemalaya films' depiction of a so-called "Filipino experience"--and the implications to the issue of audience that it entails. It has been practically taken for granted that Cinemalaya films (and Filipino independent films in general) typically present a picture of an impoverished and crime-ridden Filipino society--a presentation that is supposedly geared for foreign consumption in international film festivals, if not for local audiences of a particular socioeconomic background. The research, by critically reading Cinemalaya films and surfacing these filmic articulations, aims to contribute to this highly divisive, albeit rarely discussed, issue.

For more information, please contact the coordinator.

The Asian Democracy Index (ADI)

Please visit the ADI microsite here.

The Mass Transit System in Metro Manila: From Tranvia to MRT, 1879-2014

The proposed study, though largely historical in approach and structure, draws on the disciplines of geography, transportation studies, and political economy to put together a comprehensive and critical survey of mass transit plans for (Metro) Manila, focusing in particular for this research phase on the rail network that services the metropolis. This is evidenced by the institutions and academics that have come together to draw up this proposal, namely those from the Third World Studies Center, the National Center for Transportation Studies, and the Department of Geography. The core group may still expand as the project commences.

On a theoretical note, reading these varying configurations across time will be informed by a particular understanding of the political economy of ideas and institutions. This particular strand of political economy relies on the critical examination of the idea versus interest continuum and how this contrasting, yet linked, understanding on what drives economic, technocratic, and public policymaking shape the interpretation and implementation of select ideas regarding mass transit planning (Campbell 1998; Steinmo 2008).

The immediate focus on plans and its eventual (non-)execution aims to highlight the varied contexts (social, economic, cultural, political, and even technological) that configured the present-day mass transit system in Metro Manila.

The proposed study will inevitably include other public transport modes but would be focused on mass transit including rail and bus. While jeepneys are not formally classified and recognized as a mass transport mode these will be included in the analysis and discussions as they provide services along corridors that are supposed to be served by traditional mass transit. Upon conclusion of the project, these can serve as the next phase/new research proposal.

Hence for this study, the first priority is to identify, locate, and evaluate all plans related to mass transit: from the tranvia in cosmopolitan Manila at the end of the nineteenth century to the present light rail transits of Metropolitan Manila. Next is a genealogy of contexts: Who proposed what to whom? What did these proposals lead to? How were these plans evaluated by those in positions to make them possible? Why were those built, built the way they were? How were they built and by whom? What sections of the plans were relegated to the dustbin of history? What and who influenced those who made the plans? Those with the power and finances to make them possible, what were in their minds when they decided to build the mass transit systems in Metro Manila? Was it all a question of money and influence, of market efficiency, and not of public service? These questions have not fully been explored before and answering it, as is the intent of the project, will give a deeper context to the present-day problem in mass transit in Metro Manila.

The study, however, does not want to end its close scrutiny of mass transit plans and its contexts with a plan to end all plans. Instead, it will be a tightly-knit series of academic critiques of the current mass transit predicament in Metro Manila drawn from the disciplines of history, transport studies, geography, and political economy. This is what makes it a pioneering study. This is a study that questions both the received wisdom and the supposed alternatives.

For more information about this project, please click here.

Completed Projects

Since its establishment, the Center has completed numerous major research projects on different aspects of Philippine and Third World societies and states.

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