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Home Bound

Home Bound: Filipino American Lives across Cultures, Communities, and Countries

Yen Le Espiritu
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 282
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  • Book Info
    Home Bound
    Book Description:

    Filipino Americans, who experience life in the United States as immigrants, colonized nationals, and racial minorities, have been little studied, though they are one of our largest immigrant groups. Based on her in-depth interviews with more than one hundred Filipinos in San Diego, California, Yen Le Espiritu investigates how Filipino women and men are transformed through the experience of migration, and how they in turn remake the social world around them. Her sensitive analysis reveals that Filipino Americans confront U.S. domestic racism and global power structures by living transnational lives that are shaped as much by literal and symbolic ties to the Philippines as they are by social, economic, and political realities in the United States. Espiritu deftly weaves vivid first-person narratives with larger social and historical contexts as she discovers the meaning of home, community, gender, and intergenerational relations among Filipinos. Among other topics, she explores the ways that female sexuality is defined in contradistinction to American mores and shows how this process becomes a way of opposing racial subjugation in this country. She also examines how Filipinos have integrated themselves into the American workplace and looks closely at the effects of colonialism.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92926-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Home Making
    (pp. 1-22)

    The relationship between the Philippines and the United States has its origins in a history of conquest, occupation, and exploitation. A study of Filipino migration to the United States must begin with this history. Without starting here, we risk reducing Filipino migration to just another immigrant stream. Extending Michael Omi and Howard Winant’s notion that “racial formation” is the changing product of the negotiations between social movements and the U.S. state, this book contends that Filipino American racial formation is determined not only by the social, economic, and political forces in the United States but also by U.S. (neo) colonialism...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Leaving Home: Filipino Migration/Return to the United States
    (pp. 23-45)

    Geopolitical upheaval, displacement, dispersal—such has been the way of life for millions of Filipinos scattered around the world. The ferocity of U.S. (neo)colonial exploitation, the mismanagement of the Philippines by the country’s comprador elite, and the violence of globalized capitalism have flung Filipinos “to the ends of the earth” as contract workers, sojourners, expatriates, refugees, exiles, and immigrants.¹ Although Filipinos can be found in more than 130 countries, with most earning a living as short-term contract workers, the vast majority of the “permanent” Filipino emigrants have settled in the United States.² According to the 2000 U.S. census, Filipinos totaled...

  6. CHAPTER 3 “Positively No Filipinos Allowed”: Differential Inclusion and Homelessness
    (pp. 46-69)

    In 1930, a sign in a West Coast hotel declared “Positively No Filipinos Allowed.” This sign exemplifies the ways in which Filipinos in the United States have been excluded economically, politically, and culturally from the “national” or “America.” Restrictive naturalization and immigration laws, discriminatory housing policies, unfair labor practices, violent physical encounters, and racist and anti-immigrant discourse have all colluded to keep Filipinos outside the nation, that is, to keep themhomeless.Given this violent record of enforced homelessness, it would be easy to read the history of Filipinos in the United States as one of exclusion. This reading, though...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Mobile Homes: Lives across Borders
    (pp. 70-97)

    The majority of U.S. immigration studies focuses on the relationship of immigrants to the United States. They ask the question, How well are immigrants faring within U.S. institutions and with other Americans? To disrupt this unilinear model, I employ a critical transnational perspective to call attention to the border-crossing practices that immigrants engage in as they maintain their relations with the homeland. Drawing on the lives of Filipinos in San Diego, I address in this chapter the question of why immigrants do or do not maintain ties to “home.” This question is part of my broader concern with home making—...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Making Home: Building Communities in a Navy Town
    (pp. 98-126)

    Filipino American lives in San Diego have been marked both by enforced homelessness and by active home making. Like other U.S. cities, San Diego has been carved out of repressive state, labor, and cultural practices designed to maintain white privilege and to keep “outsiders” from becoming rooted. As racialized immigrants and citizens, Filipinos in San Diego have endured housing, job, social, and interpersonal discrimination—all designed to reinforce their marginal status. But they have also created community to challenge these discriminatory practices and to provide crucial social sustenance and financial support to each other. I focus on San Diego to...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Home‚ Sweet Home: Work and changing Family Relations
    (pp. 127-156)

    One of the significant outcomes of U.S. colonialism in the Philippines is the creation of particularly gendered migration opportunities.¹ This chapter presents a comparative analysis of the male-dominated migration of Navy stewards and the female-dominated migration of healthcare professionals from the Philippines to the United States. I am interested in these two groups because they represent an inversion of the idealized gendered division of labor, with the Navy men migrating as domestic workers and the health-care women migrating as professionals. This inversion is but one example of how the material existence of immigrant women and men of color has historically...

  10. CHAPTER 7 “We Don’t Sleep Around Like White Girls Do”: The Politics of Home and Location
    (pp. 157-178)

    In this chapter, I continue my discussion of “home” as a domestic space by focusing on the relationship between Filipino immigrant parents and their daughters. I argue that gender is a key to immigrant identity and a vehicle for racialized immigrants to assert cultural superiority over the dominant group. In immigrant communities, culture takes on a special significance: not only does it form a lifeline to the home country and a basis for group identity in a new country, it also serves as a base from which immigrants stake their political and sociocultural claims on their new country.¹ For Filipino...

  11. CHAPTER 8 “What of the Children”: Emerging Homes and Identities
    (pp. 179-204)

    When asked why they chose to move their families from the Philippines to the United States, Filipino immigrant parents would say, “We did it for the children.” In the United States, they believe, their children would have better health care, education, and job opportunities. As we learned in chapter 4, even when immigrant parents desired to return to the Philippines permanently, their children’s welfare often mandated against such a move. This chapter discusses what it is like to grow up as young Filipinos in San Diego, paying particular attention to contestations over terms of inclusion, to instances of cross-group alliances,...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Homes, Borders, and Possibilities
    (pp. 205-222)

    Home making is really border making: it is about deciding who is in as well as who is out. I began this project on Filipino Americans in San Diego at the border—the U.S.-Mexico border. Since the mid-1970s, the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border region has intensified. From San Diego to the Rio Grande Valley, armed U.S. federal agents patrol key border points to block “illegal” crossers—to keep “them” from invading “our” homes.¹ Since 1994, “Operation Gatekeeper,” a high-profile gion into a war zone, pushing immigrants to attempt more treacherous crossings in the forbidding mountains and deserts east of...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 223-246)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-266)
  15. Index
    (pp. 267-271)