Maternal Diasporas and Posthuman Subjectivity in Hagedorn's Dream Jungle and Roley's American Son
In this essay, I argue that two recent Filipina/o American novels enable us to perceive an alternative diasporic politics through two women whose subversions are illegible to nationalism and globalization. If diasporic nationalism has relied on a humanist discourse to structure the lives of overseas Filipina workers—training them to be compliant and docile, which fulfills narratives of colonialism, race, and gender in order to facilitate their exploitation—these characters resist the temptation to find liberation through humanism, which other characters attempt to impose on them. Instead, these characters identify with animals in their respective narratives, revealing strong and intersubjective connections that suggest posthumanist alternatives. I emphasize that the distinction between humanism and posthumanism here is a material one, driven less by abstract metaphysics and more by historical contexts and efforts to stage liberation through the nation- and human-form. Such liberation narratives become the goals of Filipino male characters and white female characters, but the two diasporic Filipinas I analyze forge alternative subjectivities that do not rely on the same humanist elements—voice and cultural-political visibility—opting for silent and absent presences that nevertheless impact their lives in decidedly beneficial ways. I insist that such claims must play a role in how we think about and mobilize around the highly exploitative conditions that confront overseas Filipina workers.
Suarez, Harrod. 2015. "Maternal Diasporas and Posthuman Subjectivity in Hagedorn's Dream Jungle and Roley's American Son." MELUS 40(2): 74-95.
Oxford University Press
Comparative American Studies