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Deirdre de la Cruz

Associate Professor of History and Asian Languages and Culture, University of Michigan

I am an historian and cultural anthropologist of the Philippines, with an interest in the transformation of religious sensibilities, beliefs, and phenomena in modernity. Specifically, my work examines different varieties of Filipino Christianity through their material, textual, and technological mediations. My approach to these subjects departs from the premise that the Philippines is a highly productive site for comparative and interdisciplinary inquiry, and thus my work situates the Philippines and Filipinos in relationship to other worlds and communities—be they defined by empire, Christian mission, or diaspora—in ways that unsettle claims often made about Filipino culture and history. At the same time, my work “thinks with” Filipino Christian phenomena as a means to develop innovative approaches to researching and writing about religion.

My first book, Mother Figured: Marian Apparitions and the Making of a Filipino Universal (University of Chicago Press, 2015), is a study of the efflorescence of apparitions and miracles of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines, from the mid-nineteenth century to the turn of the millennium. It documents not only the conditions of this efflorescence but its effects, particularly on the place of Filipinos in the greater Catholic world. My current book project, tentatively titled Spirits of a New Age, investigates alternative spiritual and religious movements in the Philippines as they intersect with and influence “occult” and “new age” discourses and practices worldwide. As with my first book, this second project pays particular attention to the formation of religious publics as they articulate with colonial and post-colonial modernity, nationalism, and politics.


  • –present
    Associate Professor of History, University of Michigan