The settler queer and the settler’s queer: Sony Coráñez Bolton, ‘Filipinx Critique at the Crossroads of Queer Diasporas and Settler Sexuality in Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado’, Journal of Asian American Studies, 24, 2, 2021, pp. 219-245


Abstract: This essay reckons with the relationship between Filipinx diaspora and settler colonialism by analyzing the ways that Miguel Syjuco’s novel Ilustrado (2010) aligns queerness with indigeneity. Filipino diasporic fiction and Filipino American studies scholarship have both critiqued the limitations of supposing a racial homogeneity in the construction of “Filipino America.” Queer diasporas critique has similarly affirmed the heterogeneity and multiple affinities that inform diasporic subjectivity. This article explores the ways that Filipinx diaspora is shaped by US settler coloniality and upon return to the “homeland” intensifies extant settler logics in the Philippine archipelago. In doing so, it argues that the straightness of the homeland and the diaspora can potentially collude in a homophobic settler logic that discards queer indigeneity in order to construct the diaspora as a space of literary freedom. Ilustrado curiously centers the “ilustrado,” a mixed-race, even hybrid, subject, around which a unified Filipino national consciousness subscribes to a homogeneity that necessarily reduces the nation. Even so, Syjuco’s novel allows for productive questioning around the relationship between queerness, settler colonialism, and diaspora. Ultimately, this article suggests that the field of Filipinx American studies is in a unique position to pay critical heed to the queer life of settler coloniality in the diaspora and at “home.”

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