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Toward a Renewal of Critical Practice: Reflections on the Occupy Movement and Filipino Self Determination

Jeffrey Arellano Cabusao


This essay examines the significance of the developing Occupy movement within the United States, which emerged from a year of global protests (2011). It suggests that one way to broaden its vision of solidarity is to renew our critical practice (“conscientization and action” – borrowing from Brazilian educator Paulo Freire). A renewal of critical practice within the context of this essay involves examining the following more closely: 1) the dynamics of race and class in the United States and abroad, 2) the site of the academy (the politics of knowledge production), and 3.) the significance of our submerged histories of collective struggle for racial and economic justice. The essay asserts that the Filipino diasporic experience and ongoing struggle for self determination (Filipinos now constitute one of the largest—if not the largest—segment of the Asian American population) can offer useful theoretical tools for renewing our critical practice in the Occupy era. Two contemporary Filipino cultural texts, which reflect upon the dialectical relationship between Filipinos in the United States and in the Philippines, are examined: E. San Juan, Jr.’s Toward Filipino Self Determination: Beyond Transnational Globalization (2009) and Sari Lluch Dalena and Keith Sicat’s film Rigodon (2005). These texts provide theoretical concepts and methodological approaches for renewing our critical practice within and beyond the US academy: 1.) they encourage interdisciplinary fields, which have historical roots in movements for social justice from the 1960s/70s (Ethnic Studies, Asian American Studies), to renew their commitment to creating social change; 2.) they shed light on the unique contributions of Filipinos to movements for social justice.



Filipino Americans, Filipino Diaspora, US-Philippines relations, social justice movements and the academy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2012.01815