Revolution, Redemption, and Romance: Reading Constructions of Filipino Spanish American Identities and Politics of Knowledge in Rizal’s Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo alongside Filipino American Fiction

Steven Thomas Beardsley


This project analyzes the literary works and role of Filipino nationalist José Rizal before, during, and after the Spanish American War of 1898. Rizal’s social activism and writing sparked a revolution against the Friarocracy in the Philippines. He has also influenced Filipino American writers who reference Rizal’s construction of the Filipino woman in Christianity and Filipinos’ fighting against oppression. Thus, the primary focus of this project is to look at Rizal’s works through an interstitial lens showing how Filipino Spanish identity was created then and how it has informed contemporary ideas about intersecting social identities. The project does this by analyzing how historical figures such as Spaniards Unamuno and W.E. Retana have constructed Rizal as the quintessential Filipino Spaniard of the Philippines. The project also analyzes Rizal’s writing such as his two novels: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. This analysis is supported through a synthesis of reading and writing on secondary research and theory on his biographies, himself, his works, and on contemporary Filipino American literature through an interstitial lens. In conclusion, reading Rizal shows that the Philippines is a country whose cultural history and literature has been defined alongside Spanish and United States’ colonialism. Reading Rizal also deconstructs stereotypes about gender, sexuality, race, and other social identities related to Filipino American identity.


Filipino Spanish American Identities; José Rizal; Friarocracy

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