Beyond the Innocence of Globalization: The Abiding Necessity of Carlos Bulosan's Anti-Imperialist Imagination

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This essay analyzes Carlos Bulosan’s writing in terms of the way he works to develop an aesthetic that comprehends and cognitively maps the repetitive dynamics of US and global colonial capitalism. More precisely, the essay examines how Bulosan’s aesthetic practice both grapples with the question of how an individual and collective consciousness can grasp the systemic processes that condition experience and also how it fosters that consciousness in the way it represents the relationships among experience, the larger class and colonial dynamics that produce that experience, and the ideological processes that intervene in our comprehension of those dynamics. In developing an aesthetic that aligns ideology and experience and grasps the dynamics of the global colonial system, Bulosan’s fiction, this essay argues, generates a narrative of class struggle and a consciousness that grasps the national dimension of the Filipino working-class, comprehending the need for national liberation.The essay explores the way Bulosan’s political narratives work through and confront ideological tensions between a facile internationalism and a more concrete national liberation politics in his fiction by deploying, at times, an innocent narrator whose idealistic values and approach to the world are challenged through that character’s experiences of racial and economic injustice, violence, exploitation, and deprivation. This technique allows Bulosan to articulate a utopian worldview, that is, an ideal sense of what a world framed on principles of justice would entail, and also to address the political and economic realities that betray that ideal and thus require repair and transformation through collective political struggle. Typically, in constructing plots that move through innocence to experience, Bulosan works to create an aesthetic that aligns representation and the lived experience of Filipinos in the United States and the Philippines in ways that highlight the national dimensions of Filipino life and foster a national consciousness, challenging a premature or under-theorized internationalism or universalism.


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Kritika Kultura

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