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.