SARAH RAYMUNDO is an Assistant Professor from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman's Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. She's been teaching in UP for ten years. She has met, and even exceeded, the minimum requirements for tenure. Why then, after a year since she applied for tenure, is Prof. Raymundo being denied permanent status in the university?

Sarah is the Secretary-General of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), Treasurer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) National Council, and an active member of the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jonathan Beller's Letter to President Emerlinda Roman

The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle

December 3, 2009

Prof. Emerlinda Roman, Ph.D.
University of the Philippines

Dear UP President Roman:

It is with great urgency that I write to support tenure for Sarah Raymundo. Quite simply Sarah’s brilliance, erudition, scholarly achievements and intellectual contribution to the University and to the Philippines at large should qualify her. Sarah has been teaching at the University of the Philippines for more than eight years and is widely recognized as one of the most influential minds of her generation. Her insightful, committed and inspiring writings on literature, media and mass culture, are published and widely circulated – it is no exaggeration to say that as a scholar, a teacher, and a public presence she has been crucial in shaping a generation of thought at the University of the Philippines. Without a doubt, she is among the most highly qualified persons and most significant minds applying for tenure at UP. The fact that her quest for tenure has been so difficult is nothing short of shameful – a blight upon a University that prides itself on intellectual excellence and integrity.

Having taught for several years at the University of the Philippines myself, and having lived and worked in the Philippines for approximately four out of the last fifteen years, I can assure you that Sarah is on the way to national prominence as a writer and that as an intellectual, she is already widely recognized as a leader. Perhaps there are those among you who do not believe that Sarah stands for good causes or who think that her politics are unacceptable because of her pro-masa positions. This is not a position that can be maintained by a liberal institution although it is certainly possible to adopt it in a proto-fascist one. From an outsider’s perspective I do not think it serves the university, the Filipino people, or the international reputation of the Philippine State to censure its most talented and progressive thinkers. I have known Sarah for five years and during that time have had the opportunity to understand first hand that Sarah has an incredible ability for comprehension and synthesis of heterogeneous materials, as well as a genuine gift for communication. She is a committed organizer and a well known public speaker who is unafraid to stand up for causes of social justice even in the face of a corrupt government that punishes dissenters in a variety of ways, ways that include the extrajudicial killings of more than 1,000 persons (activists, union organizers, journalists, students) since Glorial Macapagal Arroyo came to power. Sarah has been a leader in the faculty organizations that battle state corruption and exploitation, and that allies itself with exploited and marginalized groups. It seems to me that an institution of so-called higher learning that forecloses the possibilities of thought that under duress refuses to buckle, thought that holds out for truth even at great personal risk, is an institution that knows how to honor neither the life of the mind nor that which is higher than the daily compromises and complicities in human potential. Indeed it seems that an institution that will not stand up for the integrity of its most politically and ethically astute thinkers has no right to call itself a university.
I should also say that Sarah’s scholarly work has been important to my own. (While I do not expect you to know me, I am relatively well known in several minor and marginal fields and my attesting to Sarah’s influence on my own work is, for me anyway, a genuine compliment and one that I rarely pay.) In a recent article for Postcolonial Studies, “Iterations of the impossible: questions of a digital revolution in the Philippines (Postcolonial Studies, Vo l. 11, No. 4, pp. 435 - 450, 2008) I devoted several pages to her brilliant essay “In the Womb of the Global Economy: Anak and the Construction of Transnational Imaginaries” an essay which is forthcoming in the international journal positions. Her essay details the ways in which an ostensibly progressive, that is populist film, Anak, works to reconcile Filipino overseas contract workers to state policies bent upon producing Filipinos as the principle export of the Philippines in an economy driven by remittances. It is only appropriate that serious minds raise significant questions about the relationship between culture and state policy – policy which affects the lives of millions of Filipinos. This is particularly true in an era when culture is being directly accessed as a vehicle of economic and political agendas. Sarah has an understanding of culture and politics that is both wide and deep, having at her disposal a vast arsenal of literary and cinematic analytic techniques as well as a profound understanding of Filipino history and politics and the way that these are implanted in some complex relation to the histories of colonialism, imperialism and globalization/neo-imperialism. She can hold her own at any seminar table or in any conference and is already a full-fledged contributor to the highest level discussions of politics and culture now taking place in the Philippines.

Sarah’s other essays, which include, “In the Concrete Now: Investigating Feminist Challenges to Popular Romance Production” and “Articulations of Capital in a Globalized Culture” are equally astute pieces, well conceived and well executed. Sarah has real expertise in psychoanalytic theory, various branches of sociological analysis and media theory, and is already an accomplished critic and theorist. Indeed her publication list is long and impressive and there is no doubt in my mind that all who have the opportunity to work with her will learn something from her.

In sum, and without exaggeration, there is probably no one more qualified for tenure at UP than Sarah Raymundo. I urge you to reverse the damaging decisions already made and to grant her tenure at once. Then I urge you to personally seek to repair the damages that have been done to Sarah’s career and to the reputation of the university. Rarely does a University President have the opportunity to be completely confident in her decisions, but I have absolutely no doubt that Sarah will not only continue to be a brilliant scholar, but that your decision to support her will have a positive impact on the world at large.

If I can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to email or call.


Jonathan Beller
English and Humanities and
Critical and Visual Studies
Pratt Institute
200 Willoughby Ave.
Brooklyn NY 11205 USA

1 comment:

bomen said...

hey, mali ang ispeling ng pangalan ni Jonathan sa pamagat. Naging kapangalan niya tuloy ang ating math whiz.