Marian Pastor Roces


Marian Pastor Roces writes about the various ways in which varying societies have deployed the concepts of culture, nation, and identity, and how these concepts fuse or clash upon the contact of these different societies. She has approached this subject from a variety of perspectives, including a long-term study of textile traditions of island Southeast Asia, culminating in the seminal book, Sinaunang Habi: Philippine Ancestral Weave. Pastor Roces’s textile scholarship is specifically directed at gaining an understanding of the impact of international museum practices on so-called ethnographic artifacts, with a close view of asymmetrical power relationships. She also takes a keen view of such relationships in studying the difficult links and disjunction between what is thought to be traditional art and what is thought to be contemporary art.

Pastor Roces’s theoretical work is published and read internationally. Her writing is informed by her parallel work as a curator. For the last 25 years, Pastor Roces has created the curatorial and management designs for the establishment of four major museums in several cities in the Philippines. As founding director of the Museum of Philippine Culture at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, she sought to resolve the problems of exhibiting aspects of performed traditions in the object-oriented setting of a museum. She was also the overall curator during the establishment of the Negros Museum, a regional social history museum—a project that allowed her to focus on important song and music traditions rather than on precious artifacts. A most recent effort of the comprehensive curatorial rehabilitation of the site of exile of the Philippine national hero is the Philippines’ first realization of a completely outdoor museum in an environmentally protected site.

Pastor Roces was one of the keynote speakers at the recent general Assembly of the International Council on Museums (ICOM) in Melbourne. She maintains a keen interest as well as an advocacy position in support of efforts of indigenous populations to set the terms of their transition into the modern world. All of her projects have placed an emphasis on the rights of the disenfranchised to shape their share of the social fabric of larger communities. As co-curator of Festival of Philippine Folklore, held in Washington, D.C. under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution and the Philippine Centennial Commssion, Pastor Roces explored and pursued ways of upholding and projecting the complexity of Philippine culture traditions, both material and performed, within the format of an international exposition/festival.

Pastor Roces has served as Member of the Committee on Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO National Commission. She is the 1999 recipient of a writing fellowship by the Center for Intercultural Performance at the University of California at Los Angeles.