Kritika Kultura Lecture Series 2004
"'Dignity - always dignity': Isolationism vs. Colonialism"
by Dr. Victor Bascara
Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison
January 7, Wednesday, 4 p.m.
English Department, de la Costa bldg.
Ateneo de Manila
Recent developments in American studies have well established the previously unacknowledged significance of U.S. colonialism in the Pacific at the turn of the century. Just as importantly, that scholarship makes a strong case for that unacknowledgment as perhaps the great amnesia of the American Century. Much path-breaking research has drawn that occluded history into visibility, at least for an American Studies with scales before its eyes.
This current ongoing work explores the historical understandings and misunderstandings that cemented that amnesia, an amnesia that now, with current geopolitical crises and the overwhelming evidence of American colonialism brought to light by a generation of revisionism, seems too hard to believe ever could have existed.
Toward tracking the receding of empire in American culture, Dr. Bascara is examining the period in which, for reasons that may be altogether plausible, American colonialism effectively disappeared. Part of a larger project on isolationism, the presentation considers how American popular culture texts of and about the 1920s and 30s, including Frank Capra's Prelude to War (1942), the adaptation of James M. Cain's Double Indemnity (1936, adapted for film in 1944), and Gene Kelly's Singin' in the Rain (1952). Of particular importance to the latter two texts is the curious emergence and disappearance of Filipino migrant labor.
Dr. Victor Bascara has been Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin at Madison (English and Asian American Studies) since 2001. He received his B.A. University of California at Berkeley (English) 1992; M.A. Berkeley (English) 1994; Ph.D. Columbia University (English and Comparative Literature) 2000. His book, Unburdening Empire: Asian
American Cultural Politics and the Emergence of United States Imperialism, will be published soon by the University of Minnesota Press.
Among the courses he has been teaching are "American Literature and Empire," "Survey of Asian American Literature," "Asian American Cultural Politics," "Law, Literature, and Critical Race Theory," "Asian Americans and Popular Culture," "Violence and Legitimation: Comparative Asian American and African American Studies."