This essay examines Carlos Bulosan's autobiography America Is in the Heart (1943) as it engages Henry Luce's influential editorial “The American Century” (1941). To begin, it studies how Luce envisioned the mobile, American-style education of a professional class as the distinguishing feature of the postwar era. Luce's emphasis on postwar professionals as celebrated citizens of a U.S. trained professional class created the conditions of possibility for Bulosan to paradoxically construct Filipinos and Filipino Americans as experts on processes of Americanization. Departing from dominant readings of America Is in the Heart as setting the limits by which Filipinos are excluded by discourses of race in the U.S. national polity, this essay argues that Luce's definition of U.S. expertise as patriotic work resonated deeply with Filipino American writers, including Bulosan, in their attempts to position themselves as included subjects. The article examines the ways Bulosan revises Luce's arguments in order to study the implications of benevolent assimilation, the colonial policy of tutelage for Filipinos. Although the notion of a model minority discourse is conventionally understood as the result of 1965 immigration policy and a reaction to the intensification of black civil rights and protest movements, the concluding sections of the essay suggest that Bulosan provides a glimpse of the emergence of a model minority discourse as it takes shape in the shadow of black pathologization, the transformation of the U.S.-Philippines colonial relationship, and U.S. immigration narratives during World War II.
In the “Training Center of the Skillful Servants of Mankind”: Carlos Bulosan's Professional Filipinos in an Age of Benevolent Supremacy
Cynthia Tolentino; In the “Training Center of the Skillful Servants of Mankind”: Carlos Bulosan's Professional Filipinos in an Age of Benevolent Supremacy. American Literature 1 June 2008; 80 (2): 381–406. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2008-007
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