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Beyond the Nation

Diasporic Filipino Literature and Queer Reading

Martin Ponce

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-28

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...

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1. The Romantic Didactics of Maximo Kalaw’s Nationalism

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pp. 29-57

Kalaw’s preface to the original edition tells a somewhat different story. Acknowledging “the difficulties” involved in writing one of the first Filipino novels in English, the author states that his pioneering endeavor was “induced” by his “studies of Philippine life, which revealed to me a wealth of heroic deeds, romantic episodes...

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2. The Queer Erotics of José Garcia Villa’s Modernism

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pp. 58-88

While these offensive poems led to Villa’s suspension from the University of the Philippines, a rather different literary text enabled his departure from the Philippines itself. In August of the same year, Villa’s story “Mir-i-nisa” was selected as the monthly winner of the first Philippines Free Press short story...

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3. The Sexual Politics of Carlos Bulosan’s Radicalism

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pp. 89-119

Indeed, the novel offers a literary representation of what critics take as the Hukbalahap rebellion (abbreviated from Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon, the People’s Anti-Japanese Army). Perhaps the most significant peasant revolt in the Philippines during the twentieth century, the Huk movement emerged out of the agrarian...

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4. The Cross-Cultural Musics of Jessica Hagedorn’s Postmodernism

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pp. 120-152

Staging the interrelation of writing and music as a cross-cultural practice, Hagedorn not only memorializes The Gangster Choir but also inventories her eclectic musical and poetic influences, including R&B and 1970s funk, early spoken word and Black Arts poetry, French symbolism and surrealism, Filipino...

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5. The Diasporic Poetics of Queer Martial Law Literature

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pp. 153-183

This chapter analyzes a select group of texts—Bino Realuyo’s The Umbrella Country (1998), R. Zamora Linmark’s Rolling the R’s (1995), and Noël Alumit’s Letters to Montgomery Clift (2002)—that re-view the 1970s and 1980s by locating the emergence of queer male sexualities and genders in the martial law...

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6. The Transpacific Tactics of Contemporary Filipino American Literature

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pp. 184-219

For my purposes here, the novel is striking not only because it underscores the tension between the cultural unity implied in the title (One Tribe) and the manifold differences (regional, generational, linguistic, gender, sexual) that are prominently presented in this community, but because it raises the question...

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pp. 221-232

The literature explored in this book reveals in particular the ways that gender, sexuality, and eroticism mediate narrative conclusions: Maximo Kalaw’s recourse to reproductive futurity in The Filipino Rebel (ca. 1930), José Garcia Villa’s queer seriality and self-genesis in his autobiographical stories (1933), Carlos Bulosan’s critique...

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pp. 233-235

First thanks must go to Brent Edwards. His extraordinary intellect has been an abiding source of inspiration. Marianne DeKoven and Shuang Shen served as insightful and supportive readers, as did Vicente Rafael, who read the dissertation blind and offered words of encouragement and advice. My friends at...


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pp. 237-277


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pp. 279-287

About the Author

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pp. 289

E-ISBN-13: 9780814768662
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814768051
Print-ISBN-10: 0814768059

Publication Year: 2012