Life in the Philippines: Contextual Essays on Filipino Being

This collection of essays comprises the ideas that fueled the author’s work on Philippine society and Filipino worlds of thought. The ideas concerned have been conceived in a comparative context that, on the one hand, draws on general social science and the humanities, and, on the other, on the analogies with the praxis of life in both Thailand and on Java (Indonesia). Whereas the focus of the essays is on life in the Philippines, Jose Rizal’s demonio de las comparaciones firmly situates Filipino being in Southeast Asia, or at least among the commonalities of life along the littoral of the South China cum Java Sea. Because of this, and after this position has been clarified in essay 2, Javanese and Thai data will steadily be juxtaposed to similar observations on Filipino being. After this, and similar to the analysis of the Filipino condition in essay 1, the spotlight will be on the mentality informing the public world in the Philippines.

Upon these analytical essays, we step down to earth with sketches of everyday happenings and observations that should convey the flavor of life in the islands such as experienced and interpreted by the non-native denizen.

Niels Mulder has the rare ability to be both scholarly and entertaining
– Ian Buruma in God’s Dust

In Inside Philippine Society, Mulder is particularly good at showing the contradictions in Philippine society and culture. The chapter on Filipino self-images is extremely revealing
– Raul Pertierra in Review of the Asian Studies Association of Australia

For some fifty years, cultural anthropologist Niels Mulder (1935; Dutch) has been actively engaged with the mental world of members of the urban middle classes, first in Jogjakarta on Java (Indonesia), then in Chiang Mai in Thailand, and, since 1983, also in Lucena City in the Southern Tagalog Region of the Philippines.

Niels Mulder, 1935, Dutch,
obtained his MA in Human Geography cum Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam in 1964, and has since been actively engaged with the world of thought of urban middle classes in Jogjakarta and Jakarta, Indonesia; in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand; in Lucena City and Metro Manila, Philippines.
His fifteen years of field work among the Javanese, Thai, and Filipinos, and his fifteen years of writing and intermittent academic engagements at Northern Illinois University, the University of Amsterdam, several universities in Germany (Bielefeld; Passau; Berlin; Bonn) and virtually all the main centers of academic learning in the Scandinavian countries (among others, Copenhagen; Lund; Uppsala; Bergen; Turku) resulted in some fifteen academic titles on his work in Southeast Asia, two of which attained the status of classics, viz.,
Mysticism in Java//Ideology in Indonesia (Kanisius, 2005), originally defended as Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Amsterdam in 1975. With revisions and additions, this work has been in print ever since its earliest Singapore University Press edition of 1978 and has, to date, sold 28,000 copies;
Inside Thai Society: Religion, Everyday Life, Change (Silkworm Books, 2006), originally published as Everyday Life in Thailand: An Interpretation with Editions Duang Kamol in 1979. Through six revised editions, this work has been in print ever since and has, to date, sold 22,000 copies.
Among his books, the following are relevant to the Philippines:
Inside Southeast Asia: Culture, Everyday Life, Social Change (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2000);
Inside Philippine Society: Interpretations of Everyday Life (Quezon City: New Day, 1997);
Filipino Images: Culture of the Public World (Quezon City: New Day, 2000);
Southeast Asian Images: Towards Civil Society? (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2003);
Sanaysay sa Kabihasnang Pilipino (Mamala 1, Sariaya: Dr. Niels Mulder Scholarships Foundation, 2009);
Life in the Philippines: Contextual Essays on Filipino Being. (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2016).
During his retirement on the slope of Mt. Banahaw (since 2003), he has been reflecting on his field research and evolution from human geographer to full-fledged cultural analyst, such as recorded in
Doing Java: An Anthropological Detective Story. Yogyakarta: Kanisius, 2006;
Doing Thailand: The Anthropologist as a Young Dog in Bangkok in the 1960s. Bangkok: White Lotus, 2008;
Professional Stranger: Doing Thailand during Its Most Violent Decade. Bangkok: White Lotus, 2009;
Beroepsvreemdeling: Antropoloog in het Veld (Professional Stranger: The Anthropologist in the Field). Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, forthcoming.