Inventing Vernacular Speech-Acts: Articulating Filipino Self-Determination in the United States

E. San Juan, Jr.

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

How vital is an immigrant’s native language for group self-affirmation? While the Filipino American community in the US (now the largest group of citizens of Asian descent) has not so far demanded bilingual education in the way the Chinese Americans or Chicanos have, the influx of new immigrants more conversant in “Filipino” (the official term for the national language of the Philippines) than in English is producing changes in ethnic self-identification more serious than before. The demand for college courses in Filipino is only a symptom of the greater awareness of exclusion and marginalization within the larger polity supposedly characterized by pluralism and multiculturalism. Filipino professionals and workers speaking in Filipino are growing, but they have been penalized in many ways. Can language serve as a means to assert national autonomy? The right to speak or communicate in one’s native language is not just a minor attempt in identity politics but represents a crucial index to elucidating and unraveling the liberaldemocratic rationale for the continuing neocolonial subordination of the Filipino people to white-supremacist corporate globalization.

Keywords

bilingualism, Filipino-American, identity politics

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)