White Love and Other Events in Filipino History

White Love and Other Events in Filipino History

American Encounters/Global Interactions

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Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 42 b&w photographs Published: August 2000

American Studies, Asian Studies > Southeast Asia, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In this wide-ranging cultural and political history of Filipinos and the Philippines, Vicente L. Rafael examines the period from the onset of U.S. colonialism in 1898 to the emergence of a Filipino diaspora in the 1990s. Self-consciously adopting the essay form as a method with which to disrupt epic conceptions of Filipino history, Rafael treats in a condensed and concise manner clusters of historical detail and reflections that do not easily fit into a larger whole. White Love and Other Events in Filipino History is thus a view of nationalism as an unstable production, as Rafael reveals how, under what circumstances, and with what effects the concept of the nation has been produced and deployed in the Philippines.
With a focus on the contradictions and ironies that suffuse Filipino history, Rafael delineates the multiple ways that colonialism has both inhabited and enabled the nationalist discourse of the present. His topics range from the colonial census of 1903-1905, in which a racialized imperial order imposed by the United States came into contact with an emergent revolutionary nationalism, to the pleasures and anxieties of nationalist identification as evinced in the rise of the Marcos regime. Other essays examine aspects of colonial domesticity through the writings of white women during the first decade of U.S. rule; the uses of photography in ethnology, war, and portraiture; the circulation of rumor during the Japanese occupation of Manila; the reproduction of a hierarchy of languages in popular culture; and the spectral presence of diasporic Filipino communities within the nation-state. A critique of both U.S. imperialism and Filipino nationalism, White Love and Other Events in Filipino History creates a sense of epistemological vertigo in the face of former attempts to comprehend and master Filipino identity.
This volume should become a valuable work for those interested in Southeast Asian studies, Asian-American studies, postcolonial studies, and cultural studies.


Ecce libro! Behold, an engaging, mind-boggling book that handles the Philippines with expertise; slicing, mincing, even scavenging, and then proffering for sampling and scrutiny trivial but heroic details on certain significant periods of the archipelago’s ‘vertigo’ history; so trivial, in fact, that earlier authorities on the area have usually disregarded or refused the same. . . . Rafael is a master chef. Through his innovative contrasts and parallels, with topics such as census and melodrama in the colonisation of the Philippines, ‘white female’ writers and their native domestics, ethnicity and historicity in colonial photographs and portraiture, rumour-mongering during the Japanese Occupation, youth, patronage politics and pornography during the Marcos dictatorship, Taglish and the mestizo identity, the balikbayan vs. the OCWs (overseas contract workers), and so many more, there is a sluicing of the juice and the meat of race, gender, nationalism, and other interesting but relentless discourses. He has garnished them with such a succulent parlance that there will certainly be a grateful aftertaste.” — Lino L. Dizon , Southeast Asian Studies

“[I]nspired and thought-provoking . . . . This collection does perform a great service by putting Filipino experience within the radar of post-modern theorists. Filipinists, other area specialists and social scientists will also encounter much fascinating information and enchanting analysis.” — Andrew Abalahin , Pacific Affairs

“[T]his is a very stimulating and thoughtful book, a worthy addition to the new international history.” — Kenton Clymer , Journal of American History

“Rafael’s book speaks to the efforts of Americans to assuage themselves for the thousands they killed crushing the Filipino spirit for freedom between 1899 and 1902 and to the confusion that arose among educated Filipinos as to whether they were American clones or somewhere in between. ” — M. P. Onorato , Choice

“The essays collected in this volume offer a sustained inquiry into the meaning of being Filipino/a and the challenge presented to the very idea of history by the impossibility of fixing a Filipino/a identity. Vicente L. Rafael is an insightful and eloquent guide. The book has much to offer to contemporary discussions of the relationship between nationalism and colonialism in the making and unmaking of our conceptions of history.” — Arif Dirlik , American Historical Review

"[Rafael] provides a detailed and insightful ethnography of archives, gossip columns, paintings, photographs, and colonial records. . . . White Love is intriguing, insightful, and seductive . . . ."

— Nicole Constable , American Ethnologist

"[T]his is a fine collection, full of the astute observations of an adept commentator on Philippine culture. Rafael sets forth an agenda of topics for historical consideration that will be discussed by scholars of the Philippines for some time to come. . . . Those with a broader interest in cultural studies will find much to admire and ponder here." — John A. Larkin, Journal of Asian and African Studies

"For nearly a decade, Vicente L. Rafael has been producing provocative and exciting scholarship on Filipino studies. It is thus a welcome event that eight of his key essays have been collected together in this volume. . . . Rafael's book is provocative, highly informative, and pleasurable reading." — David Palumbo-Liu , Interventions

"Rafael’s work makes a major contribution . . . . [H]ighly successful in showing the usefulness and value of adopting an interdisciplinary approach in redefining and reconfiguring the historical terrain."
Journal of Asian Studies

"Rafael's book requires careful reading by those interested in how the concept of the nation has been produced in the Philippines, the ways in which its constitute components have been organized, and through what channels it has been deployed. Much of the book offers original insights into these issues. Indeed, a reading of the book should prove profitable for all those interested in colonialism, nationalism, and postcolonialism, not just in the Philippines, but anywhere where such questions occur."
— Robert Lawless , Anthropology Review Database

“An extremely rich, original, and insightful work. Famously gifted in style and nuance, Rafael ranks among the few contemporary scholars in Asian studies whose writings merit—and reward—careful rereading. This book not only illuminates twentieth-century Philippine history with great sophistication and subtlety but also treats colonialism, nationalism, and constructions of gender and race in ways that many non-Philippine specialists are certain to find interesting and fruitful.” — John T. Sidel, author of Capital, Coercion, and Crime: Bossism in the Philippines

“These critical essays on colonial and contemporary Philippines offer a formidable combination of powerful cultural critique and incisive political commentary. Rafael’s deep knowledge of the Philippines, his capacity to address a large range of issues, his astute use of cultural and political theory and his many brilliant insights and analyses will provide new directions to postcolonial debates on imperialism, nationalism and their relationship to ‘area studies.’ A truly remarkable book.” — Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago

“Written as a sustained and devoted interruption of postcolonial certainties while seeming to arrive from the future, White Love and Other Events in Filipino History ushers in its own eventfulness. It is a momentous work.” — John Pemberton, author of On the Subject of “Java”


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Vicente L. Rafael is Professor of History at the University of Washington. He is the author of The Promise of the Foreign: Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines and Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: Episodic Histories 1

1. White Love: Census and Melodrama in the U.S. Colonization of the Philippines 19

2. Colonial Domesticity: Engendering Race at the Edge of Empire, 1899-1912 52

3. The Undead: Notes on Photography in the Philippines, 1898-1920s 76

4. Anticipating Nationhood: Identification, Collaboration, and Rumor in Filipino Responses to Japan 103

5. Patronage, Pornography, and Youth: Ideology and Spectatorship during the Early Marcos Years 122

6. Taglish, or the Phantom Power of the Lingua Franca 162

7. Writing History after EDSA


8. “Your Grief is Our Gossip”: Overseas Filipinos and Other Spectral Presences 204

Notes 229

Bibliography 265

Index 277
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc Philippines

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2542-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2505-5
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