Jeane Peracullo, De La Salle University

Human Connectivity, Solidarity, and Cooperation

“Human connectivity refers to solidarity and cooperation,” Jeane Peracullo, a professor of philosophy at De La Salle University said in a recent interview. She finds evidence of that connectivity in transnational women’s movements, which are “citizen-driven, women-centered initiatives that reach out to women from other countries through offers of financial aid, capacity-building projects, awareness campaigns, and study or research tours.” Studying these types of movements, Dr. Peracullo believes, can help people re-imagine international solidarity and cooperation and focus on shared experiences of being human in the contemporary world.

Dr. Peracullo was among the scholars in residence at the United Board’s 2016 Institute for Advanced Study in Asian Cultures and Theologies (IASACT). That experience gave her time and space for research, reflection, and exchange with other Asian researchers – resources that she invested in her project on “Reimagining and Rethinking Solidarity, Economic Partnership, and Cooperation in Asia: The Case of Japanese Women Activism as Transnational Women’s Movement.” The four-week IASACT experience paid dividends. “I benefited immensely from my IASACT participation,” Dr. Peracullo said. “Due to the feedback and encouragement from my mentors and fellow scholars I resolved to deepen my participation in the project.”

Dr. Peracullo (seated, far right) with AWEP members and Filipino members of Women’s Independent Network.

That commitment to her research led to good news in early 2020. “On March 2, the Sumitomo Foundation informed me that I have received a research grant award,” she reports. Her project aims to “deepen the understanding of women helping other women, across borders, nationalities, ideologies and cultures.” Her research centers on the Asian Women Empowerment Program (AWEP), whose work “in the Philippines, Nepal, Indonesia, and Myanmar focuses on producing and selling fair trade goods to improve the local women’s income. AWEP is also one of the groups of Japanese women that are involved in helping foreign female workers navigate complex Japanese domestic laws.”

Dr. Peracullo believes scholars from a wide range of disciplines can find value in this type of human-centered research. It’s a message she brought when returned to IASACT in 2018 – this time in the role of mentor to the participating scholars. “As a mentor, I emphasized the need to put human interests at the front and center of scholarship,” she said. “Especially in the context of religion and culture, the lived experiences of ordinary people are founts for dynamic theorizing that could translate into actions that would benefit their communities. The research can be about everyday acts such as preparing food for family and guests, cooking it, and sharing it. It can be about devotional practices that manifest the religiosity of the people.”

Scholars in the social sciences, humanities, business, economics, entrepreneurship and other fields can find common ground in a purposeful focus on community concerns and social transformation. “The most important thing is that the research captures the ties that hold us all together as humans,” Dr. Peracullo said.