Beyond the Nation: Diasporic Filipino Literature and Queer Reading

Beyond the Nation: Diasporic Filipino Literature and Queer Reading

Beyond the Nation: Diasporic Filipino Literature and Queer Reading

Beyond the Nation: Diasporic Filipino Literature and Queer Reading

Synopsis

Part of the American Literatures Initiative Series

Beyond the Nation charts an expansive history of Filipino literature in the U.S., forged within the dual contexts of imperialism and migration, from the early twentieth century into the twenty-first. Martin Joseph Ponce theorizes and enacts a queer diasporic reading practice that attends to the complex crossings of race and nation with gender and sexuality. Tracing the conditions of possibility of Anglophone Filipino literature to U.S. colonialism in the Philippines in the early twentieth century, the book examines how a host of writers from across the century both imagine and address the Philippines and the United States, inventing a variety of artistic lineages and social formations in the process.
Beyond the Nation considers a broad array of issues, from early Philippine nationalism, queer modernism, and transnational radicalism, to music-influenced and cross-cultural poetics, gay male engagements with martial law and popular culture, second-generational dynamics, and the relation between reading and revolution. Ponce elucidates not only the internal differences that mark this literary tradition but also the wealth of expressive practices that exceed the terms of colonial complicity, defiant nationalism, or conciliatory assimilation. Moving beyond the nation as both the primary analytical framework and locus of belonging, Ponce proposes that diasporic Filipino literature has much to teach us about alternative ways of imagining erotic relationships and political communities.

Excerpt

From the vantage point of the second millennium, the 1990s may be regarded as a period of unprecedented cultural and scholarly ferment by Filipinos in the United States. Ushered in by the publication of Jessica Hagedorn’s National Book Award–nominated novel Dogeaters (1990), the decade came to a close with numerous critical and collaborative publications and events commemorating the centennial celebrations of Philippine independence from Spain in 1898. the years between saw a steady outpouring of literary production, and this “literary renaissance” continues to thrive in the first decade of the twenty-first century, with a host of established and new Filipino writers not only seeing their work in print but also winning major awards.

This cultural explosion is marked by a relentless thematic and generic diversity. the range of issues taken up in the literature—transnational and international migration, generational conflict and continuity, gender and sexual nonconformity, assimilation and its inherent failures, labor under late capitalism and the contradictory pressures of upward mobility, racial misrecognition and differentiation, crosscolor affiliation and aversion, racial hybridity, geographical dispersal and isolation, and historical reconstructions of the Philippine Revolution (1896–1898), the Philippine-American War (1899–1902), the Japanese occupation (1942–1945), and Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law regime (1972–1986) in the Philippines—is matched by a broad array of literary forms—novels, short story collections, autobiographies, personal essays, poems, plays, and anthologies—used to evoke these themes. Even a cursory glance at this body of work makes evident that there is neither an ascendant set of issues with which contemporary Filipino literature has been engaged nor a particular form that writers have gravitated toward. and yet despite the tremendous growth of Filipino studies scholarship in the United States since the 1990s, this literary abundance has not been met with a corresponding critical recognition.

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