The Sacred Diesel: Infrastructures of Transportation and Religious Representation in Manila

by Anderson Blanton

Working Papers WP 15-10
September 2015
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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This working paper describes a representational shift in the style and content of images that occurred upon the surface of the Jeepney, one of the most popular modes of public transport in the Southeast Asian megacity of Metro Manila. Through a focus on the pious visual culture of the crowded streets of Manila, the paper proposes a new way to describe and theorize paratransit, or informal modes of urban transportation. By examining the Jeepney and its religious images, the paper demonstrates how this form of paratransit has refashioned the urban landscape into a mobile network of miraculous appearances, communal prayers and divine blessings.

Keywords: Art, Christianity, infrastructure, Southeast Asia, paratransit, pollution, prayer, urban transit  

Anderson Blanton is a Research Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany. With a focus on the infrastructures of transportation (Jeepney) and communication (missionary radio), his current research project explores the proliferation of charismatic forms of Christianity in Southeast Asia. His most recent academic works include Hittin’ the Prayer Bones: Materiality of Spirit in the Pentecostal South (UNC Press, 2015) and the Materiality of Prayer collection sponsored by the Social Science Research