Critical States: Essays on Artistic and Cultural Productions under the Duterte Regime
Editors: Rolando B. Tolentino, Oscar T. Serquiña, Jr., and Jay Jomar F. Quintos
A congeries of geopolitical and socioeconomic issues haunts the presidency of Rodrigo Roa Duterte. From waging his notorious War on Drugs, to calling an all out counter-insurgency campaign, to declaring Martial Law in the entire islands of Mindanao and Sulu, to flip-flopping on maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea, and up to shifting gears in his alliances with the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, Duterte has enacted one controversial political decision after another ever since he assumed the country’s topmost political position in 2016. All of these controversies have garnered much national and foreign media mileage. They have also received a range of academic interests, most notable of which emanates from social scientists who have diligently problematized not only the prevailing popularity of the country’s “mayor-president” and its much purported “Tatay Digong” but also the consequences of his so-called populist politics and punitive policies.
This anthology intends to intervene in the traffic of discourses about Duterte by foregrounding the productions and practices Filipino artists and cultural workers have initiated under the Duterte regime. It calls for essay submissions that examine the production, dissemination, and reception of art and culture within a 21st-century Philippine political terrain, which critics have described as “fascistic,” “authoritarian,” “dictatorial,” and “bloody.”
Contributions that consolidate or center on different artistic and cultural forms and tease out their respective political aesthetic or aesthetical politics speak to the demands of this planned collection. The editors look forward to receiving historical, theoretical, conceptual, and analytical pieces spotlighting manifestations of art and culture that have prominently emerged in the tenure of Duterte and have yet to receive attention, documentation, and evaluation. Some of these include but are not exclusive to landscapes, edifices, and built environments for architecture; effigies, graffiti, installations, campaign paraphernalia, and billboards for the visual arts; spoken word poetry, zines, komiks, graphic novels, children’s stories, oral narratives, folk and urban lore, and manifestos for literature; community plays, rallies and mass demonstrations, and rhetorical performances for theatre and performance; hip-hop, protest songs, popular melodies, political jingles, and ceremonial anthems for music; TV series, news coverage, telecasts, radio commentaries, and computer games for broadcast media arts and other screenal media; budots and choreographic concerts for dance; and documentaries, experimental movies, alternative films, and video installations for cinema and moving images. Submissions revolving around traditional folk arts, such as weaving, carving, ornament, tattoo, pottery, and textile or fiber art, among others, are most welcome.
How do these artistic and cultural expressions apprehend an archipelago soaked in human blood and pushed to uncertain conditions of development? How do they get entangled in complicit or critical ways with the programs and platforms of Duterte? Why and how do art and culture remain crucial in understanding pressing issues under Duterte’s presidency? Some of these concerns involve but are not limited to:

  • Build, Build, Build
  • Oplan TokHang
  • Philippines-China-US diplomatic relations
  • Human Rights
  • Economic Development
  • Sexual and Gender Politics
  • Modes and Forms of Philippine Government
  • Martial Law in Mindanao
  • Attacks on Peasants and Indigenous Peoples
  • Militarization of Urban and Rural Communities
  • Peace Talks
  • National Security and Sovereignty
  • Death Penalty
  • Media Repression and Censorship

The editors are further interested in essays that put into question the role of artists from whatever ideological and political persuasion, as well as their supporting institutions or industries, at this political juncture. What are the relations of these agents and agencies of art and culture to efforts that propel or criticize the logics and rhetorics of Duterte’s government? What becomes of artistic and cultural patronage in a time of state repression and duress? We seek pieces that concentrate on individuals and collectives that either support or repudiate different artistic and cultural forms and therefore significantly determine their social life and death. These groups have garnered a gamut of names in contemporary parlance: the “kuyog crowd,” the “trolls,” the “‘tards,” the “dilawan,” and the “Diehard Duterte Supporters” or the “Ka-DDS,” to name a few. Whatever nomenclature they take, how do they participate in the making, unmaking, and remaking of art and culture? How might we evaluate persons and populations whose bodies of artistic or cultural work get co-opted by, or are brought into being through collaborations with, the Duterte administration?
We invite submissions from and beyond the Philippines. However, we strongly encourage critics, writers, artists, and cultural workers outside the National Capital Region to submit essays about the valuations of underrepresented arts and expressive cultures with locally grounded aesthetics from various communities in the regions. Such contributions will surely realize this anthology’s aims of documenting artistic and cultural resistances to and complicities with hegemonic power; arresting (re)configurations of art or expressive forms and their aesthetics in/as politics; and highlighting the role of artists and cultural workers in painstakingly confronting the turnings of a Philippine nation wrestling with the blessings and the curses, the excesses and the shortcomings of Duterteismo.
How To Submit Your Essay

  1. A working title and a 300-word abstract of an original essay in English or Filipino that has not been submitted or published elsewhere, in either print or electronic format, will be accepted until 31 October 2019.
  2. Notification of accepted abstracts will be on 15 November 2019.
  3. Full essay submissions should be within 5,000-8,000 words, inclusive of references. Documentation should follow the most recent Chicago Citation Style. Submissions must be computerized, double spaced, and rendered in Garamond font size 12.
  4. Visual and audio materials may complement the submissions. But it is the author’s task to secure the necessary permission for the publication of these resources.
  5. All submissions must be sent as an email attachment (MS Word) to by 28 February 2020. A cover letter briefly introducing the author, explaining the project, and certifying the originality of the work must accompany the submission.
  6. All inquiries must be directed to the editors via email: Rolando B. Tolentino, (, Oscar T. Serquiña, Jr. (, or Jay Jomar F. Quintos (