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Carlos Bulosan—Revolutionary Filipino Writer in the United States

A Critical Appraisal


E. San Juan, Jr.

Carlos Bulosan—Revolutionary Filipino Writer in the United States: A Critical Appraisal is an in-depth, critical evaluation of Bulosan's major works in the context of the sociopolitical changes that configured his sensibility during the Depression, the united-front mobilization prior to World War II, and the Cold War witch-hunting of the fifties. Unprecedented for its thorough historical-materialist analysis of the symbolic dynamics of the texts, this book uses original research into the Sanora Babb papers that have never before been linked to Bulosan. Sophisticated dialectical analysis of the complex contradictions in Bulosan’s life is combined with a politico-ethical reading of U.S.-Philippines relations. San Juan takes the unorthodox view that Bulosan’s career was not an immigrant success story but instead a subversive project of an organic intellectual of a colonized nation-in-the-making. Today, Bulosan is hailed as a revolutionary Filipino writer, unparalleled in the racialized, conflicted history of the Philippines as a colony/dependency of the United States. This book follows San Juan’s pioneering 1972 study Carlos Bulosan and the Imagination of the Class Struggle.

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Foreword (Peter McLaren)


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Peter McLaren

Filipinos living in the United States today, over four million, comprise the largest Asian group originating from one country, the Philippines. When the U.S. defeated Spain in 1898 and annexed the islands as its first imperial acquisition, it had to suppress the native army of the revolutionary Republic which had already defeated the Spanish rulers. The Filipino-American War lasted up to 1913, with 1.4 Filipinos sacrificed for McKinley’s “Benevolent Assimilation” policy. The Philippines was the first and only Asian colony of the United States, and then after 1946 virtually a neocolony up to now. Thus, when Filipinos arrived in 1906 in Hawaii, they were colonial wards, or “nationals,” not immigrants, who distinguished themselves in militant worker organizing and union strikes, a tradition of solidarity with multiethnic communities that endured up to the founding of the United Farmworkers Union in the 1960s. Agribusiness warned the public of those dangerous “Flips” prone to go amok.

Carlos Bulosan, now a central figure in Asian American history, is studied for his classic quasi-autobiography, America Is in the Heart, published in 1946, the same year the Philippines was granted nominal independence after World War II. He grew up in a society dominated by feudal landlords and comprador bureaucrats that inculcated ideals of democracy and equality under American tutelage. Landing in Seattle in 1930, at the height of the Depression, he experienced the racist violence that his compatriots were suffering from the canneries ← ix...

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