Annotation: Baldoz, Rick. 2011. Third Asiatic Invasion

Baldoz, Rick. 2011. Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1898-1946. New York : New York University Press.

In this historical sociology of the “third asiatic invasion” of the U.S., Baldoz “examines the interlocking politics of race, immigration, and empire” to argue that “the incorporation of Filipinos into American society played an important role in shaping politics of citizenship and race” during the U.S.’s imperial expansion (11). The book looks at history at both international (expansion of the American empire) and domestic (formation of early Filipino communities in the U.S.) level. Baldoz reveals how the problematics of race and empire made complex the early immigration of Filipinos, first, as laborers on sugar plantations, and then as conscripts in the U.S. army. Until after WW2, the presence of Filipinos in the U.S. was a source of anxiety for white American nativists, who saw Filipinos as a problem community who broke miscegenation laws and who unionized labour. Their status as U.S. citizens (as colonial subjects) was a loophole that allowed Filipinos to repeatedly challenge the status quo and fight for fair labour practices, for the abolition of anti-miscegenation laws, and for equal rights in the U.S.. Baldoz argues that in the course of American history, racial and national boundaries were constructed and reconstructed at the expense of the marginalized non-white communities in the U.S., and to the benefit of the expanding American empire. For example, the historic Tydings-McDuffie Act, whose supposed purpose was to establish an equal footing relationship between the Philippines and the U.S., was actually linked to the U.S.’s exclusionist agenda, which sought to 1) limit Filipino immigration to the U.S. and, 2) restrict the export of Philippine goods. Linking this part of history to the present, Baldoz argues that the “specter of the empire continues to haunt Philippine-American relations” (236). U.S. policymakers and corporations now use soft power to shape Philippine politics and economics. Global migration (e.g. of nurses), Baldoz argues, is among the legacies of the empire, and in this postcolonial era “nativist sentiment has been an enduring feature of the American political landscape” (238). Recruitment practices (low wages, ascription to stereotypes) in the age of globalization “bear a striking resemblance to those that characterized the age of the empire” (239).

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