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After the I-Hotel : Material, Cultural, and Affective Geographies of Filipino San Francisco


This dissertation traces the cultural and economic trajectories of Filipino migration to, settlement in, and displacement from the San Francisco Bay Area from the 1960s through the present moment as represented in the work of local poets, visual artists, and performers. After the I-Hotel argues that the shifting representations of urban and suburban space over this time period not only reveal the structural forces behind the displacement of old and new Filipino migrants in the Bay Area, but also--- and more importantly---are themselves productive of theories of Filipino/American subjectivity, spatiality, and aesthetics rooted in values alternative to the logics of settler colonialism and speculative capitalism which structure the contemporary social-economic milieu. The two halves of the dissertation center different cultural forms (poetry in the first half and site-specific multimedia installations and performances in second half) in order to trace the shifts in representational strategies used by artists over this time period, partly as response to the changing geographic borders of Filipino/American life in the region and as reflective of the variegated political orientations and lived experiences of feminist and queer Filipino/Americans. The cultural workers profiled in the dissertation, while divergent in their individual artistic practice, evidence a shared commitment to the politics of place. Their works are both spatially and temporally expansive, and extend the genealogy and the geographic borders of Filipino America to include subjects, neighborhoods, suburbs, and regions understood as beyond the material and metaphorical borders of the Philippine diasporic experience. From the printed and performed poetry of Al Robles and Barbara Jane Reyes to the psychogeographic wanderings of Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa, Filipino/American artists make material the grounds of the Filipino Bay Area, and in doing so, also redefine the terms of Filipino/American "art," "community" and "politics" itself. Reading the decolonial spatial aesthetics of these works, this dissertation concludes, can help us imagine new modes of contesting labor exploitation, physical displacement, and violence committed on multiple scales---from the most intimate scale of the individual body to the scale of the national body of Filipino peoples living in the United States

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