An Economic History of Davao City

Doctoral Research in History
Project Overview
Using methods from narrative history, economics, and geography, my PhD research aims to narrate the story of how Davao City, the third-largest city in the Philippines, shed its 1980s-era reputation as "Murder City" and became one of the safest and most economically dynamic cities in the Philippines.

The project's primary value is that it adds new material to the literatures on recent economic and urban history in the Philippines, helping to expand the scholarly view beyond Metro Manila.

Secondarily, the project provides new evidence that the long-standing historiographical paradigms of "bossism" and "rent-seeking" have stunted historians' analysis of the Philippines' recent economic history.
This is a solo project
I conceptualized the dissertation in 2017, while living in the Philippines. The idea for the project emerged while conducting interviews for a short documentary in Manila, but the film project was abandoned when I realized that the contemporary political issues I was learning about had deep historical roots, many of which found their narrative origins in 1980s Davao City.

I conducted background interviews and archival research in Davao City between 2018 and 2020, followed by data analysis and secondary source research between 2020 and 2022 while finishing PhD coursework and writing my MA thesis.

I will return to Davao City in 2023 to conduct more interviews, collect more primary sources, and collect more economic data. I aim to finish and defend the dissertation in 2023.
This project has been awarded financial support from: