Annotation: San Juan, Epifanio. 2000. After Postcolonialism: Remapping Philippines-US Confrontations

San Juan, Epifanio. 2000. After Postcolonialism: Remapping Philippines-United States Confrontations. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Essentialists view the Filipino habitus as a “hybrid, syncretic, and variegated creation.” Instead, San Juan argues that the Filipino society is a “historical-political construction.” It is a product of mercantilism, imperialism and monopoly capitalism (2). Taking a Marxist stand, he argues that the trajectories of the Filipino diaspora around the world manifest a “refeudalization” of the Philippines. Filipinos are different from other Asian immigrants in the U.S. because of the Philippine history of “violent colonization and unmitigated subjugation by U.S. monopoly capital” (13). The author rejects postmodernist claims about people having “transcultural and fluid subjectivities” (11-12), and suggests instead a greater focus on the power of the sovereign state over the colonized. The juxtaposition of claimed citizenship and assertion of one’s ethnicity, he writes, fails to answer the fundamental questions about “autonomy, social justice, and equality of peoples in a society characterized by alienation, commodity fetishism, and mass reification” (12). Without the understanding of the “constellation of episodes” of colonial subjugation and history of resistance, which occur simultaneously whilst people are located in separate geographies, San Juan argues that Filipinos will not be able to define their trajectory as a “dynamic bifurcated formation” (13-14). Transnational theory merely “befogs” an environment that is “already mired in the insistence on contingency, aporia, ambivalence, indeterminacy, disjunction, liminality…” (14). Reminiscent of American “benevolent assimilationism,” the theory obscures historical “permanences” (Harvey 1996) as it contributes to the further racialization of people of color. It devalues the role of the state as an ideological state apparatus and its effect in structuring the political economy of labor (53). What is crucial now, he suggests, is to find out why and how the so-called practices of agency of Filipino Americans or people in the diaspora are instead enabled by social structures, and by the conditioned disposition of the agents themselves (56).

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