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Rosa Cordillera Castillo (Alumna BGSMCS)


Dissertation: Being and Becoming: Imagination, Memory, and Violence in the Southern Philippines


Rosa Cordillera A. Castillo is on a six-year contract to teach and write her habilitation at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin's Department for Southeast Asian Studies


Rosa is a sociocultural anthropologist working primarily on the Philippines. Her dissertation “Being and Becoming: Imagination, Memory, and Violence in the Southern Philippines” provides ethnographic insights into the lives of Moros, specifically Maguindanaon adherents of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who have lived through violence and the liminality of uncertain peace in the Cotabato region. She explores the workings of imagination in the formation of subjectivities and in the (un)making of the Bangsamoro imagined community, by giving attention to imagination’s links with memory, temporality, emotions, and action. Through this lens, she examines the dialectical relationship between the individual and the collective, modes of belonging, aspirations, resistance, peace, and future-making, the co-implication of past, present, and future in people’s subjectivities and in an imagined community, as well as acts of exclusion and violence.


She obtained her PhD in anthropology (summa cum laude) in 2017 from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS), Freie Universität Berlin. Her doctoral research project was supervised by Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Dilger (Freie Universität Berlin), Prof. Dr. Vincent Houben (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), and Dr. Richard Baxstrom (University of Edinburgh). She was awarded a German Research Foundation Excellence Initiative scholarship through the BGSMCS from 2011 to 2015.


Since 1999, she has conducted research on the life world of compressor fishers, indigenous peoples’ struggle over land, and gender-based barriers to access to healthcare and medicine in India and China, among others. She also does engaged research for NGOs and communities. 


Prior to moving to Berlin for her PhD studies, Rosa was a lecturer, instructor, and assistant professor in anthropology at the University of the Philippines Diliman and Manila campuses from 2005 to 2011. At BGSMCS, she conducts workshops and seminars for PhD students about ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative research methods, including topics on research ethics and the politics of knowledge production. At HU-IAAW, Rosa teaches courses on the Philippines and thematic interests such as the politics of memory in Southeast Asia. She is also strengthening the Philippine studies component of the department.  


In December 2014, she founded the Philippine Studies Series Berlin, which is increasingly gaining a reputation, locally and internationally, as a leading platform for lectures, discussions, and art and film events regarding the Philippines and its diaspora.


She finished her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology (magna cum laude) and Masters in Anthropology (excellent GWA) at the University of the Philippines Diliman.


Reasearch Interests:

  • Violence and peace
  • Memory
  • Imagination
  • Emotions
  • Temporality
  • Anthropology of Islam
  • Critical ethnic studies
  • Decoloniality
  • Social categorization
  • Engaged scholarship
  • Research ethics
  • New area studies
  • Philippines
  • Southeast Asia



Dissertation: Being and Becoming: Imagination, Memory, and Violence in the Southern Philippines


First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Dilger

Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Vincent Houben

Third Supervisor: Dr. Richard Baxstrom

Peer review Journals

14 August 2018. "The Mamasapano Clash, Memories of Violence, and the Politics of Muslim Belonging in the Philippines." New Mandala, hosted by the Australian National University’s (ANU) Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

Online: http://www.newmandala.org/mamasapano-memories-muslim-belonging-philippines/

July 2018. "Subverting 'Formalised' Ethics through Mainstreaming Critical Research Ethics and a Responsive Review Process." Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, 26:3. 

Online: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1469-8676.12526


Forthcoming 2018. "Unpacking 'Youth' and 'Religiosity' in J. Cornelio's Being Catholic in Contemporary Philippines. Journal of World Christianity, 2018/2.


Forthcoming 2018. "Becoming a Tidtu a Muslim (a True Muslim): Religious and Moral Subjectivities Caught Between Adat and the MILF Islamic Revivalism." South East Asia Research.


2015. "The Emotional, Political, and Analytical Labor of Engaged Anthropology Amidst Violent Political Conflict." Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, Vol. 34(1).
Online -  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01459740.2014.960564


2014. "Perspectives on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation in Central Mindanao." In Dealing with the Past in Mindanao: Perspectives and Entry Points for Transnational Justice. Domes, M. and Jaeger, D., eds. Davao City: ForumZFD.
Online - http://www.forumzfd.de/sites/default/files/downloads/forumZFD-Moving_Beyond_Towards_Transitional_Justice_Bangsamoro_Peace_Process.pdf


2013. "Gender-Based Inequalities in Access to Medicines: The Case of India and China." In The Living Tree: Traditional Medicine and Public Health in China and India. Chaturvedi, S., Ladikas, M. and Guo, L., eds. New Delhi: The Academic Foundation and Research and Information System for Developing Countries.
Online - http://academicfoundation.org/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=173


2009. "The Law is Not Enough: Free and Prior Informed Consent Issues Raised by the Mining of Philippine Indigenous Peoples’ Lands; With Insights from the San-hoodia Case." In Indigenous Peoples, Consent and Benefit Sharing: Lessons from the San-Hoodia Case, Wynberg R, Vermeylen S, Chennels R. eds. South Africa: Springer. Pp. 271-284. 
Online - http://www.springer.com/de/book/9789048131228?wt_mc=ThirdParty.SpringerLink.3.EPR653.About_eBook

2009. Alvarez-Castillo, Fatima, Julie Marianne Lucas and Rosa Cordillera Castillo. "Gender and Vulnerable Populations in Benefit Sharing: An Exploration of Conceptual and Contextual Points." Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 18:130-137.

Online - http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=4429852


2008. "The Tasaday Twenty Four Years After: Insights on Ethnicity and the Rights Framework." AghamTao - Journal of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines, 17:75-83.


2006. Castillo, Rosa Cordillera and Erika Rey. "Social Capital, Morality and the Politics of Urbanidad: The Case of Sidewalk Clearing Operations in an Urban Space." AghamTao - Journal of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines, Vol. 15.

Working paper

2011. "When Fishing is No Longer Viable: Environmental Change, Unfair Market Relations and Livelihood in a Small Fishing Community in the Philippines. COMCAD Arbeitspapiere" – Working Paper, No. 105, 2011. 
Online - https://www.unibielefeld.de/tdrc/ag_comcad/downloads/workingpaper_105_castillo.pdf

Political Commentary

February 14, 2015. "Who do we condemn? Whose lives matter?" Rappler http://www.rappler.com/views/imho/83885-mamasapano-lives-matter