- The Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1898–1946 by Rick Baldoz
The Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1898–1946
Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2015. 301 pages.
Rick Baldoz's The Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1898–1946 starts with the author's acknowledgment that he belongs to the lineage of a Filipino family that migrated to the mainland United States in the 1920s (vii). Given his positionality and academic training at various ethnic studies programs and his current position in the Department of Sociology at Oberlin College, I consider this work to be part historical sociology and part ethnic studies focusing on Filipino America. This understanding agrees, at least partially, with how the New York University Press, the book's US publisher, categorizes it under "History, Sociology, Asian American Studies." As mentioned below, to classify this work as such helps us to understand and appreciate its proper contributions.
The book delineates the outcome of US colonialism in the Philippines, mostly on how it affected the formation of Filipino America. Two basic characteristics stand out. The title suggests that the author is primarily interested in Filipinos as a single ethnic group of immigrants by regarding them as a "third" wave, coming after the Chinese and Japanese. By using the term "Asian invasion," Baldoz regards colonialism mainly as it affects minority groups in the formal territory of the nation-state-cum-empire. Except for chapter 1, which describes racism in the colony, Baldoz refers to Philippine [End Page 387] society only when he explains its influence on Filipinos in the US. He uses Philippine colonial history as a prop to narrate the birth and upbringing of Filipino America. I find this narrative strategy rather disconcerting for it renders the simultaneous experiences of Filipinos in the Philippines opaque and makes them disappear in the backdrop. Nonetheless, this strategy ushers in a transborder narrative in which racism in the colony is regarded as a direct antecedent to anti-Filipino racism in the metropole.
In world history colonialism has always accompanied racism. As Baldoz concurs, US colonialism in the Philippines was no exception. At the same time, twentieth-century imperialism claimed to provide appropriate political rights and citizenship to the colonized and used such provision for its own legitimacy. Due to these contrasting characteristics, one salient issue is the collision between racism and citizenship. Baldoz argues that racism manifested in the exclusion of Filipinos from the rights associated with citizenship, most notably the right to marry white women. He thereby interrogates how racism was internalized in the construction of US citizenship.
Chapter 1 describes how racism in the US propelled imperialism and led to the expansion of overseas territories. In the Philippines, US rule used the 1903 census to establish race as an essential category for constructing colonial knowledge that deemed Filipinos to be lazy and emphasized racial hierarchy in expositions and traveling exhibits (34–43). Chapter 2 describes the migration of Filipinos to Hawaii and the mainland US, motivated by the need for cheap labor and facilitated by the Americanization of the Philippines. However, as chapter 3 explains, both the US federal and state governments imposed legal racial boundaries due to fears of miscegenation; thus Filipinos could only get secondary status, which existed in various forms, rather than full citizenship in the US mainland.
Chapter 4 shows the process by which this legalized discrimination slid into violence in the form of anti-Filipino riots. Chapter 5 presents how US institutions that usually helped the underclass—labor organizations and the popular press—regarded Filipinos as a threat to white females and the white working class. These institutions pushed for the repatriation of Filipinos after the passage of the Tydings–McDuffie Act. Chapter 6 focuses on efforts of US-based Filipinos to liberate the Philippines from expansionist Japan by volunteering in the US Army and through their activism and struggle to achieve racial equality in the US. For instance, they campaigned for the right [End Page 388] of Filipinos to naturalization even before the end of the Second World War. The author narrates the changing...