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Filipino Crosscurrents

Oceanographies of Seafaring, Masculinities, and Globalization

Kale Bantigue Fajardo

Publication Year: 2011

Filipino seamen currently compose approximately twenty percent of the 1.2 million international maritime transportation workers. Ninety percent of the world’s goods and commodities are transported by ship. Taken together, these statistics attest to the critical role Filipino seamen play in worldwide maritime trade. In Filipino Crosscurrents, an interdisciplinary ethnography, Kale Bantigue Fajardo examines the cultural politics of seafaring, Filipino maritime masculinities, and globalization in the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora.

Drawing on fieldwork conducted on ships and in the ports of Manila and Oakland, as well as on an industrial container ship that traveled across the Pacific, Fajardo argues that Filipino seamen have become key figures through which the Philippine state and economic elites promote Filipino masculinity and neoliberal globalization. From government officials to working-class seamen and seafarers’ advocates, Fajardo’s wide-ranging analysis exposes the gaps in dominant narratives of Filipino seamen in national, regional, and global contexts.

Writing in a hybrid style that weaves together ethnographic description, cultural critique, travelogue, and autobiography, Fajardo invites readers to reconsider the meanings of masculinity and manhood.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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Preface: Boatmen and Boyhood

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pp. ix-xiv

I learned early on in life that water and the sea are spaces of Filipino/a gender production (masculinities), transnational connection, and cultural translation.1 The sea first reached out to me on the banks of the river in Atlag, Malolos, Bulakan, Philippines. ...

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Introduction: Filipino Crosscurrents

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pp. 1-40

In 1995, scholar-artist Allan Sekula argued that the “sea has been forgotten”1 in dominant U.S.-based scholarly debates about globalization. Here, globalization broadly refers to the flows of capital, people, goods, images, and ideologies in a capitalist world system, significantly implemented through neoliberal economics and policies.2 ...

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1. The Race of the Century: Galleons and Global City Desires in Manila

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pp. 41-76

Dockside. A band in red uniforms plays traditional fanfare music. A small crowd waits eagerly for boats to arrive. A television helicopter flies overhead, apparently broadcasting live. Everyone is excited, full of anticipation, but no boats arrive. Tired of the waiting and playing during false alarms, the band eventually sits down along a ledge to rest. ...

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2. Ashore and Away: Filipino Seamen as Heroes and Deserters

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pp. 77-110

The “OFWs as bagong bayani” (overseas Filipino/a workers as new heroes or heroines) is a persistent and dominant narrative in the Philippines and in some parts of the diaspora. An illustrative example of this discourse is presented in the video Tagumpay Nating Lahat (The Success, Prosperity, or Victory of All of Us), ...

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3. Ethnography in Blue: Navigating Time-Space in the Global Economy

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pp. 111-148

During fieldwork in Manila in 1998, I traveled by jeep or taxi from Quezon City (where I lived) to Rizal Park in Ermita (district), to the Teodoro M. Kalaw Street side of the park, near the National Library. There on T. M. Kalaw, Filipino seamen or those aspiring to become seamen gathered, in search of employment on board ships. ...

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4. Transportation: Seamen and Tomboys in Ports and at Sea

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pp. 149-176

At 5:00 a.m. it is dark and quiet when I wake up, trying to beat the morning rush hour in Metro Manila. The port should only be about a twenty-minute car ride, but with the arteries of the city becoming increasingly clogged, it could take two hours. Other people have similar ideas, so by the time I reach the street corner where the “Quiapo-Pier” jeepney1 (or jeep) ....

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Epilogue: Decolonizing Filipino Masculinities

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pp. 177-184

It is a cold (20°F) and clear early February morning when I begin writing this epilogue. After several days of light snowfall, the South Minneapolis cityscape is covered again by white powder. Is this poetic in/justice that my task is to put closure on this book as I am literally situated in the middle of the North American continent, far removed from the sea? ...

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pp. 185-190

Creating Filipino Crosscurrents was a voyage I always wanted to take. Thank you to the many stars who steadfastly guided my way. First and foremost, in Manila, in Oakland, and at sea, maraming salamat po to the many Filipino seamen I was honored to meet. ...


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pp. 191-208


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pp. 209-232


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pp. 233-252

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About the Author

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p. 268-268

Kale Bantigue Fajardo is an assistant professor in the Department of American Studies and the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

E-ISBN-13: 9780816678488
E-ISBN-10: 0816678480
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816667574

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2011