E. San Juan Jr. is Director of the Philippines Cultural Center in Storrs, Connecticut. He is the author of more than sixty books, including Hegemony and Strategies of Transgression: Essays in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, also published by SUNY Press; From Exile to Diaspora: Versions of the Filipino Experience in the United States; and In the Wake of Terror: Class, Race, Nation, Ethnicity in the Postmodern World.
In Building Diaspora, Emily Noelle Ignacio explores how Filipinos have used these subtle, cyber, but very real social connections to construct and reinforce a sense of national, ethnic, and racial identity with distant others. Through an extensive analysis of newsgroup debates, listserves, and website postings, she illustrates the significant ways that computer-mediated communication has contributed to solidifying what can credibly be called a Filipino diaspora. Lively cyber-discussions on topics including Eurocentrism, Orientalism, patriarchy, gender issues, language, and "mail-order-brides" have helped Filipinos better understand and articulate their postcolonial situation as well as their relationship with other national and ethnic communities around the world. Significant attention is given to the complicated history of Philippine-American relations, including the ways Filipinos are racialized as a result of their political and economic subjugation to U.S. interests.
As Filipinos and many other ethnic groups continue to migrate globally, Building Diaspora makes an important contribution to our changing understanding of "homeland." The author makes the powerful argument that while home is being further removed from geographic place, it is being increasingly territorialized in space.
The Spanish flexible racial tradition had resulted in a system based on ethnicity and class as determinants of social and economic structure, while the rigid U.S. racial tradition assigned race the more dominant role. The cultural affinity between the early individual American administrators and the Filipino elite, however, meant that class-based distinctions in the islands were not broken up. Thus, the extreme elitist character of the Philippines' economy and society persisted and became impervious to the influences which in other Asian countries led to a progressive weakening of elite structures as the 20th century advanced.