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Haunting the Metropole: Return Effects, Screen Memories, and Figures of Exile in 20th Century Filipino American Literature


In the works of Jessica Hagedorn, R. Zamora Linmark, and Joi Barrios, Martial Law under the Marcos Regime (1965 - 1986) is as much a recurring trope that works to maintain the mythos of American exceptionalism and discrete national border as it is a material period of Philippine history. In the novels and poetry of these authors, I map the interlocking processes by which late 20th century Filipino American literary objects alternately corroborate and challenge broadly conceived notions of American democratic pluralism. On either side of the Philippine- American dyad, the exilic figure remains recalcitrant, unsettles the logic of nationalism, and survives collective forgetting and historical erasure in a dynamic state of "nevertheless." From the particular vantage point offered by the Filipino American context, the contemporary moment of crisis in local American as well as international and transnational (specifically in the so-called "third world") contexts exposes its genealogy in the modes of violent globalization and circulation of labor that continue to characterize the Philippine-American relationship. Collectively, these authors explore Martial Law as an inescapable past that bleeds into the present vis-á-vis globalized immigration conflict as well as the interrogation of both Filipino American identity formation and the institution of American citizenship at large. In re-thinking Martial Law, I supplement my analysis of these literary objects with research into films, protest performances, legal documents, and press pieces (from both Filipino and American contexts).

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