Defining ethnic identity and social space for Filipino Americans
Locating Filipino Americans
Ethnicity and the Cultural Politics of Space
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The Filipino American population in the U.S. is expected to reach more than two million by the next century. Yet many Filipino Americans contend that years of formal and covert exclusion from mainstream political, social, and economic institutions of the basis of their race have perpetuated racist stereotypes about them, ignored their colonial and immigration history, and prevented them from becoming fully recognized citizens of the nation. Locating Filipino Americans shows how Filipino Americans counter exclusion by actively engaging in alternative practices of community building.
Locating Filipino Americans, an ethnographic study of Filipino American communities in Los Angeles and San Diego, presents a multi-disciplinary cultural analysis of the relationship between ethnic identity and social space. Author Rick Bonus argues that alternative community spaces enable Filipino Americans to respond to and resist the ways in which the larger society has historically and institutionally rendered them invisible, silenced, and racialized. Bonus focuses on the "Oriental" stores, the social halls and community centers, and the community newspapers to demonstrate how ethnic identities are publicly constituted and communities are transformed. Delineating the spaces formed by diasporic consciousness, Bonus shows how community members appropriate elements from their former homeland and from their new settlements in ways defined by their critical stances against racism, homogenization, complete assimilation, and exclusionary citizenship. Locating Filipino Americans is one of the few books that offers a grounded approach to theoretical analyses of ethnicity and contemporary culture in the U.S.
"Filipino Americans rank as the second largest Asian-American population in the USA, following Chinese Americans. This book draws from the author's ethnographic studies of Filipino-American communities in Los Angeles and San Diego,California, in the early 1990s. Bonus focuses on commercial establishments such as markets, community centers, and ethnic newspapers as sites where Filipino Americans publicly construct their ethnic identities in relation to the historical and contemporary conditions they face as members of US society. He contends that Filipino-American identity formation reflects two forces: a need to respond to and resist historical and institutional rendering of invisibility, exploitation, silencing and racial constructing, and a desire to claim 'space' within the category 'American' on their own terms."
"Bonus combines oral interviews, multi-disciplinary theories, history and ethnographic fieldwork and provides sophisticated and through analyses of his findings. What is refreshing is not only the telling Taglish (i.e., a combination of Tagalog and English) responses by interviewees to his questions, but his scholarly commitment to the interviewees of the study."
Read a review from MultiCultural Review, September 2001 (pdf).
Read a review from The Journal of American Ethnic History, Winter 2002, written by Jon D. Cruz (pdf).
Read a review from Contemporary Sociology, Volume 31.1, written by Catherine Ceniza Choy (pdf).
In the series
Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Vő.
The "standard" written histories of Asian immigrants to the United States have been imbued with Western cultural biases. As a critique and corrective to earlier work, Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Vő, aims to develop a history of Asian Americans that is compatible with their own experience, that treats Asian Americans as agents of historical change and as creators of a new culture. In addition, this series intends to focus on the groups that are flourishing in the contemporary U.S.Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnameseabout whom little has been written as well as to add to the substantial work done on the Chinese and Japanese in this country.