Friday, January 19, 2007

Johns Hopkins: New Course on Mail Order Brides

NEW JERSEY -- The prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is offering a course on Filipina mail-order brides, calling it a “serious course” that would help explain the stereotyping of Filipino women.

“Mail-Order Brides: Understanding the Philippines in Southeast Asian Context” will be offered in the Spring, with an expected enrolment of 35 students. British Prof. Fenella Cannell, who has spent 15 years in the Philippines and has written scholarly books about Southeast Asia, is teaching the course.

The course is offered by JHU’s Department of Anthropology and is cross-listed with studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and Political Science. There have been some inquiries about the course, but the department said the number of students was not yet available at the time of interview.

“I can see why people might misread, but this is a serious academic course,” Cannell told Philippine News. “We want to find out about the Philippines and address some of the stereotypes and misconceptions and why people tend to think of Filipinas as transnational migrants or as marrying partners of distant foreigners.”

She said the course would introduce the Philippines and examine the different aspects of its culture and history. She added the course would also give students who don’t know anything about Southeast Asia, generally, a chance to learn something about the region and “probably to be surprised and challenge their preconceptions.”

The course syllabus has a reading list of books, and a list of websites for Filipino mail order marriages. Cannell, however, cautions prospective students not to submit fake applications for pen pals and/or spouses and to view the information as purely part of academic exercise.


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