The language of militarism: Engendering Filipino masculinity in the U.S. empire

by Suarez, Theresa Cenidoza, Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO, 2008, 130 pages; 3320357


My dissertation examines the relationship between militarism and domesticity in the United States through the everyday lives of multigenerational Filipino Navy families in San Diego, California. The militarization and domestication of Filipino Navy families have engendered affective and effective desires to constitute themselves as legible subjects despite the violence of U.S. empire in the Philippines and the demands of resettlement in the U.S. imperial center. Arguably, the desire for such legibility in an imperial milieu (as Filipino/American subjects) challenges the language of belonging (or inclusion) common to analyses of U.S. empire. From the epistemological perspectives of Filipino Navy families in my sample, I posit that such discursive legibility in the U.S. imperial center relies on inventing quotidian expressions of heteronormative Filipino masculinity and manhood alongside co-constructions of heteronormative womanhood and childhood. My analyses is based on original recorded interview data with approximately twenty Filipino Navy families residing in San Diego over a nine-month period between 2004 and 2005. Three members of each family (male enlistee, spouse, and adult child) were interviewed, for a total of sixty participants with a cumulative affiliation with the U.S. Navy that spans fifty years. In "Militarized Filipino Masculinity and the Language of Citizenship," I examine how Filipino masculinity and manhood are constituted in and through a distinctly masculine framework for familial relationships, and explore the legibility of U.S. patriarchy and militarism in the lives of Filipino men. I show how the domestic space is always overseen, authorized, and enabled by U.S. authority—regardless of how and whether the Filipino Navy men in my sample identify, cope with, and resolve their expectations of themselves as men through the language of citizenship and the patriotic. In "Militarized Filipino Motherhood and the Language of Mothering," I examine how domesticity, intimacy, and morality are imagined, staged, reproduced, and transferred intergenerationally by women to constitute a distinctly masculine framework for Filipino Navy families. Specifically, I look at how the incongruities of class consolidation and white bourgeois domesticity in everyday life gesture towards the everyday expressions of dissent and critique of U.S. empire, as well as the limitations. Finally, in "Militarized Filipino Youth and the Language of Respect," I examine how gendered experiences of militarized childhood both enable and disable the possibilities of demilitarization from within the U.S. imperial center.

AdviserYen Le Espiritu
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAmerican studies; Ethnic studies; Gender studies; Hispanic American studies
Publication Number3320357

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