Mapping the cosmopolitan turn in contemporary Philippine critical theory

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Literature

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature


College of Liberal Arts



Thesis Adviser

David Jonathan Y. Bayot

Defense Panel Chair

Dinah T. Roma

Defense Panel Member

Soledad Reyes
Paz Verdades Santos


This dissertation argues for the turn to cosmopolitanism from the prevailing framework of postcolonialism in contemporary Philippine critical theory. The cosmopolitan turn is here represented by the works of Reynaldo C. Ileto, Vicente L. Rafael, and Caroline S. Hau collectively labeled the Cornell School, having obtained their doctoral degrees at Cornell University with dissertations published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press. To map the cosmopolitan turn entails the articulation of theoretical assumptions first of representative works in Philippine postcolonial studies. In so doing, what emerges are humanist assumptions that are salient in addressing the question of agency but are underelaborated within the framework of postcolonialism and interrelated schools. This clears the space for an engagement with the reconsideration of cosmopolitanism in critical theory at present, particularly its recuperation of humanism. The study of the works of the Cornell School brings to light cosmopolitan ideas generated by practices in Philippine culture and history, the general rubric for which is cosmopolitan humanism. In each chapter, two concepts are delineated to serve as conceptual matrix: self-cultivation and utopia in Ileto the question of scale, or communicative capacity, and dialectic between sameness and difference in Rafael and individual and collective transformation based on the universality of reflective reason in Hau. In conceiving of cosmopolitanism in the Philippine context, this dissertation addresses the following questions: how can we articulate non-Western discourses, in the mode of appropriation rather than oppositionality (as in the case of nativism or the search for pure forms of Western and non- Western discourses)? And, how can we facilitate a dialogue between Western and non-Western discourses? The dissertation demonstrates how the Cornell School is conversant with a wide horizon of domains of thought. What makes them representative of non-Western cosmopolitanism is their context-specific analyses that extend and build on these paradigms, allowing readers a more nuanced understanding and deeper appreciation of the viability of ideas. This is how intellectual production becomes bidirectional, that is, mutually informing and transformative. This dissertation thus aims to show that Philippine critical theory takes part in the public sphere of theory and criticism.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer optical disc; 4 3/4 in


Cosmopolitanism; Critical theory--Philippines

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