This course will introduce you to the contemporary Filipina, Filipino—the Filipinx (or if you like Pilipinx)–experience in the United States. Because the Pilipinx community has been present in this country for a long time and is an incredibly diverse one, this course can conceivably cover lots of ground. Though we will cover early Filipinx migration history to the United States, we will NOT be able to cover all of the historical research that has been produced about Pilipinx communities since we first landed on the shores of Morro Bay, CA in 1587. Though the community faces lots of issues in the present-day, we will NOT be able to cover it all. We could, for instance, look at Filipinx educational experiences and outcomes from kindergarten to college. We could focus on Pilipinx literature, arts, performance and music. In fact, there are scholarly texts about Pilipino Cultural Nights (PCNs) and if we wanted to, we could do a whole course just on the topic of Filipinx in hip hop! These topics are NOT going to be the focus of our short 10 weeks together. I will mention these studies when relevant in my lectures and you can find more information about these studies on this blog.

INSTEAD, this course will focus on the experiences of exploited, oppressed and marginalized populations in our community: low-wage workers, the undocumented, and queers. I have studied and written about Filipinx migration globally and to the United States for nearly twenty years. I have been especially committed to better understanding the experiences of low-wage Pilipinx workers, including the undocumented, for the purpose of supporting their rights to better working and living conditions. Hence, the experiences of low-wage workers and the undocumented will be highlighted in this class. Though it is not necessarily a topic that I am an expert in, this course will also highlight the experiences of yet another marginalized group—notably queers (or LGBTQI).

It is often said in our community that we must, “know history, know self; no history, no self.” To “know self” by “knowing history” is to recognize that despite the diversity of Filipinx individual experiences in this country we (because I share this experience) are connected to each other because of our collective historical roots in the Philippines and our displacement from the Philippines to the U.S. Understanding the lasting legacies of U.S. imperialism in shaping the Pilipinx experience in the U.S. is vital and will be discussed in this course.

Asian American Studies is something Filipinx college-students fought for, in coalition with other communities of color, beginnings in the 1960s and early 1970s across northern California (from the Bay to Davis) then throughout the state and beyond. The fight isn’t over. Because of Asian American Studies’ roots in social justice activism, this course aims to introduce you to the various ways exploited, oppressed and marginalized folks in our community have stood up to the powers that be. This course, furthermore, aims to develop your critical thinking skills to help you identify how structures of inequality like racism, sexism, classism and heterosexism within societies like the United States (as well as unequal relations between the United States and the Philippines) impact the kinds of homes, jobs, forms of leisure and partners you are able to have. Asian American studies is an interdisciplinary field of academic study so we will draw from different disciplinary formations from history, literature and sociology to understand the contemporary Filipinx experience including your own. Finally, you will be encouraged to serve the community and be exposed to basic community organizing skills so that if you so choose, you too can be engaged in struggles for social justice.

You don’t have to be Pilipinx to benefit from this course. Ultimately, to study the experiences of a specific ethnic/racial immigrant group in the United States is vital to understanding this country from a critical perspective.


To cultivate critical understandings of:

  • what it means to be “Filipinx”
  • S.-Philippine relations
  • why Pilipinx immigrated to United States/emigrated from the Philippines
  • marginalized Filipinx community members’ experiences working and living in the U.S. and beyond

To offer first-hand experiences of the ways Pilipinx assert their/our collective needs and fight for social justice in the present.

Week 1:

We Didn’t Cross the Border, The Border Crossed Us

Week 2:

Early Filipino Migration Experience

Migrants for Export

Week 3:

Filipinx Migrant Workers: Not Quite the “Model Minority”

Week 4:

Filipinx Migrant Workers: Not Quite the “Model Minority” (continued)

Week 5:

The Undocumented

  • Resisting Homeland Security: Organizing Against Unjust Removals of U.S. Filipinos,” by Critical Filipino and Filipina Studies Collective (only pgs. 1-18): SITE
  • “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” Jose Antonio Vargas. See

Week 6:

  • Guevarra, Anna, “The Legacy of Undesirability: Filipino TNTs, ‘Irregular Migrants,’ and ‘Outlaws’ in the US Cultural Imaginary,” in Filipino Studies Reader
  • Buenavista, Tracy “Issues Affecting U.S. Filipino Student Access to Postsecondary Education: A Critical Race Theory Perspective,” SITE

Filipinx Activisms

Week 7:

  • Resisting Homeland Security: Organizing Against Unjust Removals of U.S. Filipinos,” by Critical Filipino and Filipina Studies Collective (everything after page 19)
  • Rodriguez, Dylan, “A Million Deaths,” SITE
  • Rodriguez, Robyn and Nerissa Balce, “American Insecurity and Radical Filipino Community Politics,” SITE

Queer Pilipinx Perspectives

Week 8:

  • Manalansan, Martin, ‘“Out There” The Topography of Race and Desire in the Global City,” SITE.
  • Ocampo, Anthony “The Gay Second Generation: Sexual Identity and Family Relations of Filipino and Latino Gay Men, ” SITE

Week 9 & 10:

  • Lipat, Christine et. al., “Tomboy, Dyke, Lezzie and Bi: Filipina Lesbian and Bisexual Women Speak Out,” SITE.
  • Fajardo, Kale, “Transportation: Seamen and Tomboys at Ports and at Sea,” SITE.
  • Gammad, Gilbert, selection from “Bakla Ka Ba? Queer Pilipinx, Gender and Sexuality,” SITE.

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