Internationalizing the US Ethnic Canon: Revisiting Carlos Bulosan
Author: Juan, Jr, E San
Source: Comparative American Studies, Volume 6, Number 2, June 2008 , pp. 123-143(21)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:The quasi-autobiographical writing of Carlos Bulosan, a migrant farmworker from the US colony of the Philippines from the 1930s to the 1950s, was discovered by ethnic activists during the US Civil Rights struggles. Once adopted as canonical texts in the US academy from the 1980s on, Bulosan's radical edge was blunted in critical readings of his work, his subversive tendencies sanitized to promote a conformist multiculturalism. We need to recover a submerged decolonizing strand in the history of Filipino deracination, sedimented in Bulosan's testimonies. This essay seeks to excavate those oppositional impulses in Bulosan's works by re-contextualizing them in the anti-colonial revolutionary movement of Filipinos dating back to the revolution of 1896; to the Filipino-American War together with the peasant insurgencies during the first three decades of US occupation (1899–1935); and in the popular-front mobilization during the US Great Depression up to the onset of the Cold War. Re-situated in their historical-biographical milieu and geopolitical provenance, Bulosan's oeuvre acquires immediacy and resonance.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2008-06-01