Disneyization of Davao City’s Public Spaces: The Myth and Amusement in Kublai Millan’s Not-So-Indigenous Sculptures


This paper explores the relationship between the role of Davao-based artist Kublai Millan's gigantic art sculptures and the Disneyization of the public spaces in Davao City. This paper further argues how the sculptures were considered as authentic representations of indigenous peoples and cultures in the city, as well as depictions of nationalism, indigeneity and visual ethnography. Ten public spaces around Davao City which are limited to parks, monuments and resorts that integrate the sculptures of Davao-based artist Kublai Millan serve as case studies. Ocular survey and on-site interviews are conducted to help in the assessment of these public spaces and the sculptures. Analytical interpretations of two theoretical frameworks by social researcher Alan Bryman's Disneyization of Society which offers insights into what park visitors to public spaces are experiencing, and political scientist Benedict Anderson's 'nation' as an 'imagined' community are utilized to evaluate Kublai Millan's sculptures in relation to the elements that comprise Disneyization, symbols of Philippine nationalism, and indigeneity in Mindanao. The findings of this paper indicate that Disneyization has not completely infiltrated Davao City's public spaces based on the principles and stipulations theorized by Bryman and to the degree that the Disney brand has become synonymous with American consumerism. The findings also suggest that since Davao City commissioned these sculptures, Kublai Millan as a brand himself, symbolizes the city. More research about preservation of authenticity and prevention against commodification of Davao City's indigenous peoples and cultures are needed to educate the people about their significance in society.

Author Information
Jp E. Fortinez, University of Southern Mindanao, Philippines

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2016
Stream: Arts - Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

This paper is part of the ACAH2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon