The Constellational Diaspora: Filipino Literature and Late Twentieth Century Imperialism
This dissertation revolves around two questions: what kind of a politics can one imagine taking hold in the Filipino diaspora, and what place can literature occupy therein? These questions come from a primary set of concerns: firstly, the predominantly nationalistic and hierarchical tendencies of theories of the Filipino diaspora?s potential politics; and secondly, the capacity for literature to engender political concepts, and what, then, the role of the reader plays as the receptor and creator of these concepts. Accordingly, this dissertation is divided into two parts: a theoretical determination of the political categories that allow one to think the idea of a non-hierarchical diasporic politics, and a literary critical elaboration of these categories. In the first part, I engage a variety of texts, from theoretical works that deal with the concept of a revolutionary subjectivity, to historical and theoretical texts that address the issue of Filipino politics. The thesis I begin with is that the hierarchies that Filipino and Filipino American scholars and activists end up reproducing are directly related to the problems posed by the American return to the Philippines at the end of World War 2. The main problem is how democracy, as represented by the U.S. vis-?-vis fascism, is conceived. In the end, I conclude that democracy is, historically speaking, inextricable from American imperialism. This is why nationalism ends up creating hierarchies: because democracy is, in its alignment with Empire, also inextricable from the State, the implicit ally of nationalisms of all kinds. I propose an alternative model: the constellational diaspora, in which the Philippines is included in the diaspora as a site for action, thus removing its centrality within any diasporic nationalism. One can encounter this constellationality, as I call it, in literature, which can operate a series of ideas through which the reader is able to imagine from a particular perspective the concept of a non-hierarchical politics. The figure that culminates this dissertation?s political trajectory is a specific one, disavowing all Empires, nations, and States alike: the traitor as a general political category.
Filipino Diaspora; Literature; Imperialism
dissertation or thesis