This essay analyzes Carlos Bulosan’s writing in terms of the way he works todevelop an aesthetic that comprehends and cognitively maps the repetitive dynamicsof US and global colonial capitalism. More precisely, the essay examines howBulosan’s aesthetic practice both grapples with the question of how an individualand collective consciousness can grasp the systemic processes that conditionexperience and also how it fosters that consciousness in the way it representsthe relationships among experience, the larger class and colonial dynamics thatproduce that experience, and the ideological processes that intervene in ourcomprehension of those dynamics. In developing an aesthetic that aligns ideologyand experience and grasps the dynamics of the global colonial system, Bulosan’sfiction, this essay argues, generates a narrative of class struggle and a consciousnessthat grasps the national dimension of the Filipino working-class, comprehendingthe need for national liberation.The essay explores the way Bulosan’s political narratives work through andconfront ideological tensions between a facile internationalism and a more concretenational liberation politics in his fiction by deploying, at times, an innocent narratorwhose idealistic values and approach to the world are challenged through thatcharacter’s experiences of racial and economic injustice, violence, exploitation, anddeprivation. This technique allows Bulosan to articulate a utopian worldview, thatis, an ideal sense of what a world framed on principles of justice would entail, andalso to address the political and economic realities that betray that ideal and thus require repair and transformation through collective political struggle. Typically, inconstructing plots that move through innocence to experience, Bulosan works tocreate an aesthetic that aligns representation and the lived experience of Filipinos inthe United States and the Philippines in ways that highlight the national dimensionsof Filipino life and foster a national consciousness, challenging a premature orunder-theorized internationalism or universalism.


class consciousness, Filipino literature, internationalism, nationalism, utopianism, working-class literature

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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
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)

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)