At the Threshold: A Critical Race Perspective of the Filipino Identity

Summer 2016

Sy Bocalbos Jordan : Gender & Women's Studies, Theater & Performance Studies

Mentor: Charis Thompson

Filipinos living in the Philippines today are made of of more than 175 ethnic groups, and are an amalgamation of its indigenous populations, migrants from neighboring countries and the descendants of distant colonizers. For my research, I will use a critical race and gender lens to examine Filipino Identity. What was the process of racialization for the indigenous peoples of the archipelago into Filipino nationalists? How do the colonial legacies of the country persist in the Filipino identity? How and why are Filipinos imagined as a mono-ethnic group?

The framework for this research will derive from critical race and gender studies and a literature review of Philippine history, from pre-colonial times to the present. In the Philippines, I will access their national archives to gather data from governments censuses on how census categories arose and changed over time, I will conduct interviews from individuals who self-identify as having different Filipino ethnicities, and I will participate in and/or observe a small number of key cultural events. By analyzing the realities that have marked the Filipino identity as an ethno-racial concept, I will begin to get a sense of how ideologies of race have evolved over time and are experienced today in the Philippines.

I am eternally grateful to the the DeBenedetti Foundation for funding my SURF award, and granting me this once in a lifetime opportunity to do this important work. As a Filipino-American, I am deeply concerned with of the struggles of my parent's home country, and the many family that I have there. I am hoping that this work will not only contribute to Critical Race Theory, but also the beautiful country of the Philippines and its people. It has been a great joy to be able to apply everything I've learned so far at UC Berkeley towards my own research. Maraming Salamat!