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Towards a Philippine Transnation: Dreaming a Philippines in Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War

Marie Rose Arong, Daniel Hempel


This article explores how Filipina writer Ninotchka Rosca explores the complex, heterogeneous nature of Philippine identity in her novel State of War. Colonized by Spain for more than three hundred years, then sold to America to become its territory for another half century, the culture and history of the Philippines represents an intriguing tapestry in which multiple ideological strands are tightly interwoven. Analyzing it with recourse to Bill Ashcroft’s concept of the transnation, this article demonstrates how Rosca’s novel unravels this web of relationships and showcases the heterogeneity of the Philippines. It is argued that in the novel, the carnival of the Ati-Atihan serves Rosca as a first allegorical representation of the Philippine transnation. But since Rosca’s Ati-Atihan collapses and dissolves in violence, it is ultimately in the smooth space of memory that she finds a second, more stable allegory for the cultural heterogeneity of the Philippine transnation.


Postcolonial; Philippines; transnation; Ninotchka Rosca; Filipino novel; carnivalesque; memory

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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