Atelier Genre(s) & Sexualité(s) « Gender, sexuality, and the body in Filipino American women’s history »
by Catherine Ceniza Choy, UCBerkeley, MSH guest professor
Why are the histories and contributions of Filipino women in the United States and other parts of the world often hidden in plain sight? This lecture addresses this question by highlighting the archival challenges of researching Filipino women’s history in colonial and postcolonial contexts. This process involves confronting the exoticization of Filipino women’s bodies through the transnational circulation of photography, postcards, and other archival materials during early-twentieth-century U.S. colonization of the Philippines, but also through more recent media depictions of Filipino women as overseas domestic workers and nurses in North American, European, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries. Inspired by the post-World War II demand for Filipino nurses in the U.S. and other countries, the Philippine government has promoted a labor export economy since the early 1970s, sending approximately ten percent of its population to work overseas and creating one of the largest and most institutionalized labor diasporas in the present day. In the mainstream press, stories of overseas Filipino migrants in Middle Eastern and Asian countries are disturbing because they often involve graphic violence. Filipino migrant women also continue to be objectified as human resources and as the Philippines’ new national heroes for the billions of dollars they remit from their work overseas. I argue that the significance of presenting more humane and dignified representations and narratives becomes more acute in the context of this contemporary as well as colonial archive of Filipino women’s bodies.
Catherine Ceniza Choy is a Professor of Ethnic Studies and an Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her major research interests focus on the U.S. global presence in Asian countries, Asian migrations to the United States, and the impact of trans-Pacific migration on American and Asian societies. She is the author of the award-winning book Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (Duke University Press, 2003), which explored how and why the Philippines became the world’s leading exporter of nurses. Her second book, Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America (NYU Press, 2013), unearthed the little-known historical origins of the transnational adoption of Asian children in the United States. She is also the co-editor with Judy Tzu-Chun Wu of the Brill book series Gendering the Trans-Pacific World.
Thursday 26 March, 5 pm – 7 pm
Henry Janne Room
S Building – 15th floor
Avenue Jeanne, 44