In the Image of Industry: Northern Luzon and the Making of Filipina/o America

This project investigates how the re-orientation of the colonial Philippines towards a global capitalist economy generated knowledge of nature (especially human nature) that manifested variously as race, indigeneity, ethnicity, and national belonging in the 20th century. It focuses on lowlands Ilokano and highlands Cordilleran groups in Northern Luzon, following the concomitant movement of migrant workers and racial ideas across the Pacific. Grappling with natural and social sciences, mining projects, landscape visuals and narratives, plantation politics, agriculture and factory work, dog-eating, colonial photography, and sensory experience, this project shows how the constellation of cultural notions associated with Philippine-American ethnicity are intertwined with the organizing logics of industrialization and imperial capitalism, impacting how we think about transnational indigenous and migrant workers' justice today.

Awards and grants for this project:
Fulbright Canada Scholarship to the United States (2017-2018)
Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award (2016-2019)
University of Toronto Fellowship (2015-2017)
C.P. Stacey-Connaught Graduate Fellowship (2015-2016)

Archival research so far:
Alfred R. Mann Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
American Historical Collection, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines
Ayer Collection of Philippine and Hawaiian History, Newberry Library, Chicago, IL
Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Special Collections Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI



Taste Against Technocracy: Doreen Fernandez, Manila's Street Foods, and the Embodied Imagination of Nationalism, 1965-1988


This paper argues that street food in Manila provided Philippine intellectuals the subject to articulate their critiques of the Marcos regime through and immediately after the dictatorship, at the height and at the end of the Cold War. While Marcos-era writing on public dining initially shied away from incorporating street vendors into their pieces, their increasing proliferation in the streets of Manila compelled the celebrated Filipina food historian Doreen Fernandez to take them as the subject of Philippine national cuisine. I will show that Fernandez articulated a critique of technocracy by embracing the senses as modes of political engagement with Manila’s urban poor. From reintroducing the street food vendor and her wares through sight, smell, and taste, Fernandez reimagined, with both utopian possibility and critical limitation, an embodied vision of Philippine nationalism, produced in the face of food insecurity and its technocratic disavowal.

Awards and grants for this project:
Association for Asian Studies--Philippine Studies Group Award (2016)
Graduate Association for Food Studies Travel Award (2015)

Archival research:
Ateneo Library of Women's Writings (ALIWW), Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines