Sulu Archipelago

(under construction)


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The picture of life, there as here, is drawn with the same elaboration of detail,  colored by the same tints. Only in the cruel serenity of the sky, under the merciless brilliance of the sun, the dazzled eye misses the delicate detail, sees only the strong outlines while the colors, in the steady light, seem crude and without shadow. Nevertheless it is the same picture . . . And there is a bond between us and that humanity so far away. I am speaking here of men and women-not of the charming and graceful phantoms that move about in our mud and smoke and are softly luminous with the radiance of our virtues . . . I am content to sympathize with common mortals, no matter where they live, in houses or in tents, in the streets under a fog, or in the forests behind the dark line of dismal mangroves that fringe the vast solitude of the sea.


Joseph Conrad (Author's note to Almayer's Folly)



This site will be devoted to the people, cultures, history, geography, politics and current events of the Sulu Archipelago, Philippines, and other Filipino Muslim peoples and cultures.


The recent deployment of 700+ United States military "advisors" to Sulu makes under cover of the "war on terrorism" suggests the need for a serious and scholarly site about a part of the globe which may soon be thrust into the headlines. I hope to make available a substantial part of my own (often difficult to find) writings based on twenty eight months of ethnographic research among the Tausug of Jolo Island. In addition I hope to offer links to other resources, photographs, maps, and streaming music, as well as a forum for contributions and commentary by others.


Thomas M. Kiefer, January 22, 2002   Please offer any suggestions or ideas