Maria Paz G. Esguerra

  • Fellowship year:2013-2014
  • University: University of Michigan
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: United States
  • Dissertation Title: Interracial Romances of American Empire: Migration, Marriage, and Law in Twentieth Century California
  • My dissertation begins and ends with migration stories, starting with Filipinos in Hawaii and later, the repatriation of over two thousand men, women and children to the Philippines between 1935-1941, Within these stories, I trace a complex history of migration, sexuality, and white supremacy that spans the Pacific. "Interracial Romances of American Empire" examines Filipino American lives through the lenses of two seemingly separate, but connected themes of migration and marriage. I argue that experiences of migration and miscegenation were central to how Filipino nationals viewed and defined their place in American society. I also examine the place of interracial marriage in the "Filipino Problem" debate in 1930s California to show how attempts to restrict intermarriage and migration shaped the language of interracial intimacy and citizenship. By looking at the connections between state miscegenation laws and federal immigration policies, this project explores constructions of Filipino sexualities, family, and citizenship. It also pays particular attention to the ways in which Filipinos challenged these constructions through cultural and legal resistance.