Themed Panel Presentation

Rizal, Decoloniality, and English Language Studies: Reimagining Our Areas of Scholarship through Noli and Fili

Members of the Panel

Ruanni Tupas
Aileen Salonga
Beatriz P. Lorenta
Gene Segarra Navera

In this roundtable discussion, we articulate our attempts at rethinking English language studies in the Philippines through the lens of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, social realist novels written by Jose Rizal, anti-colonial thinker and inspiration of the struggle against the Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines before the turn of the 20th century.

We argue that Rizal’s novels published in 1887 and 1891, respectively, are a rich repository of ideas and insights on language education, sociolinguistics, gender, and rhetoric.  Through the novels’ characters, conflicts, expositions, social ethnographic sketches, dialogues, and other distinct elements, we embark on reimagining our scholarship and respective areas of study. 

Our attempts at rethinking and reimagining our scholarly pursuits are part of the larger project of decolonizing our field.  In doing so, we also reflect on what it means to decolonize language studies, what implications it has on how we do research, what frameworks we need to mobilize, and what kinds of research we ought to pursue as decolonized scholars. 

The discussion will be guided by the following broad questions:

  1. What significant elements or aspects of the novels have enabled you to rethink some of your assumptions and practices as a scholar of language studies and your area of research in particular?
  2. In what ways have you specifically reimagined your area of scholarship using the elements you stated above?
  3. How has your experience in deploying elements from Noli and Fili shaped your view of the decolonial process? What does it mean to decolonize scholarship for you?

Ruanni Tupas teaches sociolinguistics in education at the Institute of Education, University College London. He obtained his BA and MA in English from the University of the Philippines and his PhD from the National University of Singapore. He has taught in the Philippines and Singapore and is a sought-after resource speaker throughout the Southeast Asian region. He authored Second Language Teaching (2002), edited (Re)making Society: The Politics of Language, Discourse, and the Identity of the Philippines (2007), and Unequal Englishes: The Politics of Englishes Today (2015), and co-edited Language, Education and Nation-building: Assimilation and Shift in Southeast Asia (2014), Why English? Confronting the Hydra (2016), and Bloomsbury World Englishes Volume 2: Ideologies (2021), to name a few of his works.  He is currently an Associate Editor of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language.

Beatriz P. Lorente teaches sociolinguistics and academic writing at the Department of English at the University of Bern. She has a PhD in Language Studies (English) from the National University of Singapore, an MA in Applied Linguistics from Ohio University, an MA in English (Literary and Cultural Studies), and a BA in Communication from the Ateneo de Manila University. Prior to joining the University of Bern, Beatriz was a lecturer at the Department of English of the University of Basel. She has also taught at universities in the Philippines, the United States, and Singapore. She writes and publishes in the areas of language and migration, language and work, the politics of knowledge production and language policy.  She is the author of the book Scripts of Servitude: Language, Labor migration and Transnational Domestic Workers (2018) and co-editor of Figures of Interpretation (2021).

Aileen Salonga teaches sociolinguistics and discourse analysis at the University of the Philippines Department of English and Comparative Literature where she is Professor of English and Coordinator of the English Studies: Language Program. Before her current post as program coordinator, Aileen served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. She has a PhD in Language Studies (English) from the National University of Singapore, an MA in English from Virginia Polytechnic and State University, and a BA in English from the University of the Philippines. She writes and publishes in the areas of language and gender, the politics of English/es, affect and language, and translation and rhetorical studies. Two of her authored works include Serving the World, Serving the Nation: Everyday Nationalism and English in Philippine Offshore Call Centers (2016) and Performing Gayness and English in an Offshore Call Center Industry (2015).

Gene Segarra Navera teaches writing and communication at the Centre for English Language Communication of the National University of Singapore. He holds a PhD in Language Studies (English) from NUS, an MA in Speech Communication from the University of the Philippines Diliman, and a BA in Communication Arts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.  Before coming to Singapore to pursue his doctorate, he taught writing and speech communication courses for eight and half years in UP Los Baños. He currently serves as Deputy Director of CELC and pursues research in the areas of rhetoric and public address, critical discourse studies, and writing and speech communication pedagogies.  He is the author of the book The Rhetoric of PNoy: Image, Myth and Rhetorical Citizenship in Philippine Presidential Speeches (2018).