Abstract

"Romantic Sovereignty" examines U.S. imperial governance in the Philippines in relation to popular turn-of-the-century romances. Placing these novels alongside bureaucratic and legal discourses, the essay looks at how the literary modes of realism and romance mapped onto modes of governance. By moving between realism and romance according to a particular narrative logic, these novels created a convention for transforming seemingly insurmountable contradictions between ordinary and extraordinary acts of governance into a powerful form of regulation. The essay claims that this form of regulation ultimately allowed the state to be a peculiar kind of narrative object, one that marked ordinary governance (civil service) as incongruous to extraordinary state actions (like state violence), and yet one that also articulated these forms of state power together. In other words, the convention that this essay explores produced a stable instability that allowed the imperial state a wide latitude for action over racially marked populations and yet still allowed it to appear as a coherent element within the romantic narrative of U.S. empire.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 805-830
Launched on MUSE
2005-10-10
Open Access
No
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