Archipelagic American Studies
Invisible Islands: Remapping the Transpacific Archipelago of US Empire in Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart
Joseph Keith, 2017. "Invisible Islands: Remapping the Transpacific Archipelago of US Empire in Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart", Archipelagic American Studies, Brian Russell Roberts, Michelle Ann Stephens
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Focusing on the presence of Robinson Crusoe in Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart (1946), this essay examines how Bulosan’s novel about Filipino migrant labor uses the figure of the island to undercut the unconscious spatial frameworks of US empire. By inverting Defoe’s island tale onto a Filipino migrant’s “voyage in” to the “island” of America, the novel critically remaps the United States across a trans-Pacific archipelagic imaginary in which it becomes merely one island among many. At the same time, America Is in the Heart uses the figure of the island to represent new transnational communities and subjects emerging in the shadow of a global order increasingly dominated by the United States. Neither citizens nor the proletariat, these “castaways” constitute instead a multiracial stateless counterpublic—a subaltern archipelago linking subjects “unincorporated” into the mainland of US-American citizenship with those “unincorporated” territories of empire in the Philippines.
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