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Pantropical VSS 1: Older is not Necessarily Better: The Short History of the Ifugao Rice Terraces

September 1, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

PANTROPICAL Virtual Seminar Series #1

A/Prof. S. Acabado on ‘Older is not Necessarily Better: The Short History of the Ifugao Rice Terraces’

ABSTRACT: The long-held belief in the age of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, pegged at ca. 2000 years, as proposed by pioneer anthropologists of the Philippines Henry Otley Beyer and Roy F. Barton has become a sort of received wisdom among Filipinos.  It has been taken as a gospel truth, that even the UNESCO enlistment of the agricultural wonders highlights its long history narrative. It is no wonder then, that recent archaeological and ethnohistorical discoveries that suggest a short history origin of the terraces have become an anathema to nationalist sentiments about the age of the terraces. In this presentation, I provide the scientific bases for the later dating of the terraces. By doing so, we argue that the shift to wet-rice cultivation (and the inception of rice terracing traditions) in Ifugao, Philippines was a conscious decision by the Ifugao to counter the Spanish conquest. This contention empowers Ifugao communities and forces us to rethink dominant Philippine historical narratives.

BIO: A/Prof Acabado is an anthropologist & director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at U California, LA. His work in Ifugao, Philippines has established the recent origins of rice terraces previously thought to be >2000 yrs old.

All welcome! To join, please register using this Zoom link:

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Please note that talk times are given as CEST times (Berlin)


September 1, 2021
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Rebecca Hamilton