Philippine Anglophone Literature in the Age of Reproductive Labor
This dissertation engages in a methodological approach informed by literary history, formal and cultural analyses, and genre study in order to give a century-long account of the emergence of “Philippine reproductive fiction.” While this developing Philippine Anglophone literary archive takes on its most distinct form in the twenty-first century, this dissertation attempts to locate its historical antecedents in earlier literature about the Marcos martial law period (1972-1981) and the Philippine Commonwealth period (1935-1946). It tracks the figure of the Philippine reproductive worker through each of these political transformations and their attendant economic reconfigurations. In the historical arc this dissertation traces, the literature of overseas Philippine reproductive labor begins in the colonial domestic spaces of early twentieth-century America as the Filipino “houseboy” embodies the imperial ambiguity in being a U.S. “national” subject in the domestic home, but not of the domestic nation. Moving into the postcolonial period, the literary depiction of Philippine reproductive labor in the politically turbulent years of the Marcos dictatorship begins to allegorize the failures of social reproduction at the level of the newly-independent Philippine state. In the neoliberal era, “Philippine reproductive fiction” coheres into a clear archive that links these earlier moments of imperial and national crises to contemporary economic crises at the level of the world-system. Philippine Anglophone Literature in the Age of Reproductive Labor therefore claims that shifting aesthetic representations of Philippine reproductive labor throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries mediate expansive reconfigurations in empire, postcolonial nation-states, and the global economy.