Type / Thesis

Surviving the Stateless Condition: Reconsidering Carlos Bulosan’s Filipino/American Writings in Light of The Laughter of My Father

Shyh-jen Fuh

Page / 77-97

Abstract


Following the turn to the Philippines in recent Bulosan scholarship in the wake of transnationalism, this paper discusses The Laughter of My Father, a 1944 collection of short stories set in a farm village on Luzon, Bulosan’s hometown. The Laughter of My Father was written and published only a little earlier than America Is in the Heart, a classic in Asian American studies. These two 1940s texts, respectively set in the Philippines and in the United States in the large while resonating with each other, make a clearer observation of the situation of Filipinos as a racialized group when being read together. Situating The Laughter of My Father in the context of American imperialist expansion, this paper examines its representation of the Philippines, in juxtaposition with America Is in the Heart, with view to illuminating the racial and class oppression brought abroad as well as on the U.S. soil under the American imperialist development. It also argues, the folkloric narrative highlighting the resilience for survival reflects Bulosan’s major concern in this period of time as a response to the stateless condition into which Filipinos were thrown. Centering The Laughter of My Father in the exploration of Bulosna’s Filipino/American writing helps to clarify the positioning of Bulosan’s fluid identity between the United States and the Philippines and further illuminate his writing/activism.

Keywords : Carlos Bulosan, Asian American studies, Filipino/American literature, American imperialism, racism
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