Things Fall Away

Philippine Historical Experience and the Makings of Globalization

Things Fall Away

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 496 Illustrations: Published: May 2009

Asian Studies > Southeast Asia, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In Things Fall Away, Neferti X. M. Tadiar offers a new paradigm for understanding politics and globalization. Her analysis illuminates both the power of Filipino subaltern experience to shape social and economic realities and the critical role of the nation’s writers and poets in that process. Through close readings of poems, short stories, and novels brought into conversation with scholarship in anthropology, sociology, politics, and economics, Tadiar demonstrates how the devalued experiences of the Philippines’ vast subaltern populations—experiences that “fall away” from the attention of mainstream and progressive accounts of the global capitalist present—help to create the material conditions of social life that feminists, urban activists, and revolutionaries seek to transform. Reading these “fallout” experiences as vital yet overlooked forms of political agency, Tadiar offers a new and provocative analysis of the unrecognized productive forces at work in global trends such as the growth of migrant domestic labor, the emergence of postcolonial “civil society,” and the “democratization” of formerly authoritarian nations.

Tadiar treats the historical experiences articulated in feminist, urban protest, and revolutionary literatures of the 1960s–90s as “cultural software” for the transformation of dominant social relations. She considers feminist literature in relation to the feminization of labor in the 1970s, when between 300,000 and 500,000 prostitutes were working in the areas around U.S. military bases, and in the 1980s and 1990s, when more than five million Filipinas left the country to toil as maids, nannies, nurses, and sex workers. She reads urban protest literature in relation to authoritarian modernization and crony capitalism, and she reevaluates revolutionary literature’s constructions of the heroic revolutionary subject and the messianic masses, probing these social movements’ unexhausted cultural resources for radical change.


Things Fall Away is a remarkable achievement. It is as ambitious as it is careful in its attempt to address the phenomenon of globalization from the point of view of those who produce its conditions of possibility: living labor.” — Vicente L. Rafael, Philippine Studies

Things Fall Away is a tour de force of a book . . . . Written in elegant, erudite, and impassioned prose, it offers a sophisticated, insightful and compelling re-working of the classical Marxist theory of labour/value primarily inflected through a post-colonial and transnational feminist standpoint as played out on Filipino women’s bodies and Filipino landscape under the powerful and alluring sway of capitalist globalization.” — Yeoh Sang Guan, Sojourn

Things Fall Away is ambitious in both the scope of its theorizing and in the theorists and authors integrated into the arguments. It should become a touchstone for Filipino and feminist accounts of the Philippine nation’s remaking within a changing global political economy defined by the global migration of its citizens.” — Deirdre McKay, Signs

“[An] erudite and passionate study. . . . Neferti Tadiar tirelessly and patiently rewrites the critique of postcolonial reason through the rescue and delivery of historical experience and the anticipation of a community that knows what to do with it.” — Jody Blanco, Comparative Literature

“The complexity and skill with which Tadiar weaves together a multitude of strands of both literary and Marxist analysis demonstrates great skill and dedication from her as a writer; reading Things Fall Away demands nothing less of the reader. For the persistent and engaged reader, however, the payoff is well worth the effort. . . . Social movement literatures are, Tadiar argues, a kind of ‘cultural software’ for the transformation of dominant social relations’ (p. 16). Things Fall Away itself shares this transformative potential, helping us find our feet in the maelstrom.” — May Farrales Alyssa Stryker Soni Thindal and Ben Thorpe, Gender, Place & Culture

“This book is a celebration of Tadiar’s brilliant capacity to weave a poetic narrative that expands the limits of theoretic explanation with historiographic elucidation. . . . The book is eloquently about the Philippines, but it is at the same time a narrative of the globalized experience of various parts of the world.” — Francis A. Gealogo, Pacific Affairs

Things Fall Away is a major theoretical statement about contemporary forms of world making. In this brilliant and poetic book, Neferti Tadiar works through the dilemmas of our time—transnational labor flows, urban disorder, lost hopes for progressive change, new hopes for self-expression—to return feminist theory to center stage in our understanding of the global political economy.” — Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, author of Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection

Things Fall Away is a remarkable achievement. It is a work of considerable scope, full of penetrating insights and urgent critiques. It brings to the surface an entire literary history that very few know about in the West: a literary history that speaks volumes about the conditions of modernity in various parts of the world.” — Vicente L. Rafael, author of The Promise of the Foreign: Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines

“The study of the Philippines, one of Europe’s earliest and the US’s first colonies, obliges the rethinking of colonial histories. In the growing body of crucial work on the Philippines, Neferti X. M. Tadiar’s Things Fall Away is indispensable reading, a compelling rethinking of both postcolonial theory and transnational feminism. A richly poetic lament for the things that fall away, it dares still to descry in cast-aside affect and in occluded practices resources for the difficult labor of living otherwise.” — David Lloyd, author of Irish Times: Temporalities of Modernity


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Neferti X. M. Tadiar is Professor of Women’s Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of Fantasy-Production: Sexual Economies and Other Philippine Consequences for the New World Order, winner of the Philippine National Book Award.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Loosed Upon the World 1

Part I. Feminization

1. Prostituted Filipinas and the Crisis of Philippine Culture 25

2. Women Alone 59

3. Poetics of Filipina Export 103

Part II. Urbanization

4. Modern Refuse in the "City of Man" 143

5. Petty Adventures in (the Nation's) Capital 183

6. Metropolitan Debris 217

Part III. Revolution

7. Revolutionary Imagination and the Masses 265

8. Guerilla Passion and the Unfinished Cultural Revolution 299

9. The Sorrows of People 333

Notes 379

Bibliography 445

Index 469
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4446-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4431-5
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