New Publication: A Mountain of Difference – The Lumad in Early Colonial Mindanao by Oona Paredes

Paredes, Oona, A Mountain of Difference – The Lumad in Early Colonial Mindanao, Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2013

A Mountain of Difference recasts the early colonial encounter between the indigenous Lumad and Christian missionaries in the southern Philippines. This groundbreaking study of the Lumad—the non-Muslim native peoples of Mindanao—draws on Spanish archival sources an indigenous oral traditions to reconceptualize the political and cultural history of the island’s “upland” minorities.

While Lumad peoples are widely believed to have successfully resisted the traumatic transformations of Spanish colonization, Oona Paredes makes a case for the deep cultural impact of Catholic missions in Mindanao, arguing that key elements of “traditional” Lumad life today may have evolved from earlier cross-cultural encounters with Iberian Catholic missionaries. Vignettes of Lumad life prior to the nineteenth century show different communities actively engaging colonial power and mediating its exercise according to local priorities, with unexpected results.

This book complicates our understanding of Mindanao’s history and ethnography, and outlines the beginning of an autonomous history for the marginalized Lumad peoples. The interactions explored in this book illuminate the surprisingly complex cultural and power dynamics at the peripheries of European colonialism.