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Dr. Rosa Cordillera A. Castillo (Affiliated Postdoctoral Fellow)

Rosa Cordillera A. Castillo is a Filipina sociocultural anthropologist and engaged scholar currently working as an Assistant Professor to the Chair of Southeast Asian History and Society at Humboldt University Berlin’s Institute for Asian and African Studies (HU-IAAW) since July 2017. She developed the Philippine studies component of the institute as well as teaches thematic courses related to anthropology, Southeast Asia, and critical epistemologies and methodologies. She works on peace and conflict studies, with a particular interest on violence and subjectivity, moral and ethical self-formation, resistance, and solidarity. She is also interested in and has published on decoloniality, research ethics, and engaged scholarship.

Rosa obtained her PhD in anthropology in 2017, with a summa cum laude distinction, at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS), Freie Universität Berlin. 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, Muslim-Christian relations, 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. Other threads that run through this project are processes of (mis)recognition, the emergence and traction of violent othering, ethical self-formation, the everyday work of living side-by-side in the aftermath of conflict, and the re-imagining of "the other" as an ethical being. Rosa has published and given public lectures on various aspects of this work, which she is currently transforming into a book.

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.

Rosa is currently conducting research on the transnational (dis)engagement of Filipinos in Europe with Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs." She is also continuing her research in the southern Philippines on the new political entity Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

She finished her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology (magna cum laude) and Masters in Anthropology (excellent GWA) at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Rosa has previously conducted research on the life world of compressor fishers, indigenous peoples’ rights, 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 mandatory 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 Philippine history, culture, society, and politics. She also taught courses on the politics of memory in Southeast Asia, populism in the Philippines and beyond, as well as critical research methods such as ethnographic fieldwork and decolonizing research and methodology.

In December 2014, she founded the Philippine Studies Series Berlin, a voluntarily run and internationally known platform for lectures, discussions, and art and film events regarding the Philippines, Filipina/o/x, and the diaspora.

She is also the project leader of the third-party funded project Advancing Philippines Studies at HU Berlin, which runs from June 2019 to December 2021. The project organizes academic events, provides honorarium for the Filipino/Tagalog language teacher and guest lecturers of Philippine studies courses at HU-IAAW, and improves the Philippine studies collection of the Institute's library.

Rosa is an inaugural member of the Editorial Board of ALON: Journal for Filipinx American and Diaspora Studies. The journal is based at the Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis.

Research Interests:

Violence and peace studies, Subjectivity, Memory, Imagination, Anthropology of emotions, Anthropology of morality, Anthropology of ethics, Temporality, Transnationalism, Diaspora, Anthropology of Islam, Decoloniality, Social justice, Engaged scholarship, Critical research ethics, Philippines, Southeast Asia

Dissertationsprojekt (2011-2017):

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


Forthcoming 2020. “Being young and Muslim in the Philippines: Changing the present, shaping the future.” In Rethinking Filipino Millennials: Alternative Perspectives on a Misunderstood Generation, Jayeel Cornelio, editor. Manila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. (book chapter)

Forthcoming 2020. "Becoming a tidtu a Muslim (a true Muslim): Religious and moral subjectivities caught between adat and the MILF Islamic revivalism." South East Asia Research. (article in journal)

Forthcoming. "The past, present, and future entangled: Memory-work as decolonial praxis." In The Decolonial Enactments of Community Psychology," Shose Kessi, Shahnaaz Suffla, and Mohammed Seedat, editors. Springer. (book chapter)

Under review (submitted April 2020). "Southeast Asian Artists and Academics Unsettling Borders, Power, and Authority Through Collaborative Works," with co-authors Kay Abaño, Bui Kim Dinh, Henry Tan, Ferdiansyah Thajib, and Clod Yambao, for the book Local Responses to Global Challenges in Southeast Asia - A Transregional Studies Reader, edited by Claudia Derichs, Andrea Fleschenberg, Sumrin Kalia, and Lina Knorr. (book chapter)

Under review (submitted February 2019), with Raffy Lerma, “Regime-made disaster in Metro Manila: Beyond an aesthetics reading of photographs of Duterte’s “drug war.” In The Ever Loyal City: Manila and Its Global Discontents, Robert G. Diaz, Martin Manalansan IV, and Rolando B. Tolentino, editors. Temple University Press. (book chapter)

November 2018. “Unpacking 'youth' and 'religiosity' in J. Cornelio's Being Catholic.” Journal of World Christianity, Vol. 8, No. 2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/jworlchri.8.2.0165?seq=1 (article in journal)

July 2018. "Subverting 'formalised' ethics through mainstreaming critical research ethics and a responsive review process." Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, 26:3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1469-8676.12526 (article in journal)

2017. Being and Becoming: Imagination, Memory, and Violence in the Southern Philippines [dissertation on microfilm]. [Berlin]: Freie Universität Berlin. 377 p.

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). http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01459740.2014.960564 (article in journal)

2014. “Perspectives on truth, justice, reparation, and reconciliation in Central Mindanao.” InDealing with the Past in Mindanao: Perspectives and Entry Points for Transitional Justice, Domes, M. and Jaeger, D., editors. Davao City: ForumZFD. Online - https://www.forumzfd.de/en/publikation/moving-beyond-towards-transitional-justice-bangsamoro-peace-process (book chapter)

2014. Alvarez-Castillo, Fatima and Rosa Cordillera Castillo. "Gender-based Barriers to Access to Health Care and Medicine: 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., editors. New Delhi: The Academic Foundation and Research and Information System for Developing Countries. http://academicfoundation.org/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=173 (book chapter)

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. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=4429852 (article in journal)

2009. Castillo, Rosa Cordillera and Fatima Alvarez-Castillo. “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. http://www.springer.com/de/book/9789048131228?wt_mc=ThirdParty.SpringerLink.3.EPR653.About_eBook (book chapter)

2008. “The Tasaday twenty four years after: Insights on ethnicity and the rights framework.” AghamTao Journal (journal of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines), Vol. 17:75-83. (article in journal)

2006. with Erika Rey, "Social capital, morality and the politics of urbanidad: The case of sidewalk clearing operations in an urban space." AghamTao Journal(journal of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines), Vol. 15. (article in journal)


Stories and Voices from Southeast Asia: EuroSEAS 2019 Film Program. HU-IAAW Newsletter, Issue #6.

Mediated Politics and the Populist Political Style: Introduction to the Focus Section (guest editor). July 2019. IAAW Newsletter, Issue #5.

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/

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 (working paper)

2011. Gender-Based Inequities in Access to Medicines: The Case of India and China (with co-author Fatima Alvarez-Castillo), submitted to Innova-P2 Project, University of Central Lancashire. (research report)

2009. Automated Election System Policy Study(with co-author Center for People's Empowerment and Governance), submitted to the Dean’s Office, College of Law, University of the Philippines Diliman. (policy report)

2009. There is No Other Livelihood: Negotiating Danger and Survival in the Life World of Compressor Fishers [masters thesis]. Quezon City: Department of Anthropology, University of the Philippines Diliman. (thesis)

2008. Protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Research – Ati and Tagbanua Case Studies, submitted to the Commission on Higher Education of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. (research report)

2006. Ethnography of Indigenous Molbog Communities in Bataraza and Balabac, Palawan, Philippines (with co-author Portia Villarante), submitted to SAMBILOG and Palawan NGO Network Inc. (research report)

2003. Parabuso: A Glimpse at the Hazardous Occupation of Compressor Diving in Behia(with co-author Andrea Malaya Ragragio) [undergraduate thesis]. Quezon City: Department of Anthropology, University of the Philippines Diliman (thesis)


January 19, 2019. "Bangsamoro hopes." Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/views/imho/221291-bangsamoro-plebiscite-hopes

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