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The Center for Southeast Asian Studies organizes and sponsors a number of events such as lectures, film screening, workshops, symposia, conferences, exhibits, and performances throughout the year.  Several of these events are in collaboration with other U-M units, and are often free and open to the public. To see what we have planned for this semester, please visit our 2020 Lecture Series page.

CSEAS Friday Lecture Series | From Migpanud to Migsolat: Creating a Literary Tradition in Lumad Mindanao

Oona Paredes, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California Los Angeles
Friday, March 22, 2024
12:00-1:00 PM
Room 110 Weiser Hall Map
Attend in person or via Zoom. Zoom registration at

For the past decade, a small Higaunon team, composed of elders and youths, has been working hard on transcribing their core oral tradition, known as the Panud, into book form. The Higaunon are an Indigenous or Lumad minority community on the island of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, and the Panud is the story of their becoming and remaining people since the earliest ancestors. While it can be described loosely as a genealogy, the Panud also contains, among other things, their creation story and a detailed history of their migrations, land claims, wars, rules of etiquette, and last but not least, their religious doctrines and customary laws. Su Panud Ta Baligiyan, published independently in 2023, is the first book (and the only one so far) written entirely in the Higaunon language by Higaunons themselves. Copies have since been donated to the local Department of Education’s Indigenous Peoples Education Program (IP Ed) in Region X, as a major contribution to the tribe’s language preservation efforts. The team also initiated an impromptu book tour across several Higaunon ancestral domains to encourage other communities to produce similar books, and collaborate on a longer-term project to establish a literary tradition for what is currently a non-literary culture. This talk will present the history of the Panud project, and the unique challenges (logistical, political, and epistemic) that we faced in transforming this dynamic oral tradition into written form. The process also highlights the problems inherent to “preserving tradition” and heritage making, and the complexities of being a ‘culture bearer’ in a modern Indigenous minority community in the Philippines.

Dr. Oona Paredes is an anthropologist and ethnohistorian specializing in the study of Indigenous minorities in Southeast Asia. She is Associate Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. Prior to UCLA, she taught in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. She was appointed the inaugural Strom Visiting Professor in History at the University of Toronto in 2017. Her most significant publications include: A Mountain of Difference: The Lumad in Early Colonial Mindanao (Cornell, 2013); “Custom and Citizenship in the Philippine Uplands,” in Citizenship and Democratization in Postcolonial Southeast Asia (Brill, 2016); and numerous journal articles including, most recently, “Preserving ‘Tradition’: The Business of Indigeneity in the Modern Philippine Context” (Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 2019), and “More Indigenous than Others: The Paradox of Indigeneity among the Higaunon Lumad” (SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 2022).

Oona is currently conducting research for a book on Indigenous leadership and customary law among the Higaunon Lumad of Mindanao. Since 2013, she has also been supervising the compilation and transcription of Higaunon oral traditions for heritage preservation and for use in local Higaunon schools as a ‘mother tongue’ text.

Photo by Oona Paredes, PhD

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us at Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Asia, South Asia
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Southeast Asian Studies, International Institute, Asian Languages and Cultures