Dear Workshop,

On November 3, 2011, April Manalang, PhD candidate in American Culture Studies at Bowling Green University will be present:

How Do Immigrants Constitute a Sense of Empowered Citizenship via the Social Institutions They Navigate? Imagining a Different Self-Understanding of Modernity

Time: 12:00, Thursday, November 3, 2011

Place: Swift Hall, Room 200

Food: Snacks provided, feel free to bring your lunch!

Paper: A copy of this essay can be obtained by emailing

And here is the abstract of April’s paper:

This dissertation is about how immigrants mutually constitute a sense of empowered citizenship via the social institutions they navigate. For the purpose of this paper, I draw partly from my dissertation to explore the tension between pluralism and social fragmentation. Through exploring this tension via the lens of post-1965 immigrants, we will learn more about civicness and the ways that immigrants come to embody their experiences. I focus on post-1965 immigrants because studies on pre-1965 immigrants posited linear, straight-line assimilation theories. Although there are existing models (e.g. Melting Pot, Triple Melting Pot, Assimilation, Protestant-Catholic-Jew theories) that explain assimilation, these theories are based on pre-1965 immigrants who arrived at the turn of the century. Since 77% of post-1965 immigrants are non-Europeans (Portes & Zhou, 1993), I will help advance a modern model of immigrant integration.

To that end, I present my preliminary fieldwork conducted in Virginia Beach, Virginia, one of the largest Filipino-American communities on the East Coast.  Since Filipino-Americans are part of an uneasy transition as postcolonial immigrants, through analyzing this specific understudied immigrant group, we will clarify how post-colonialism and social institutions like religion influence modernity and citizenship. For instance, although religion encourages civic engagement, Filipino-Americans’ political engagement is largely limited due to the strong ethnic-regional associations that Filipino-Americans craft in the United States. Catholicism reinforces regionalism via ethnic-specific Catholic practices like the celebration of patron saints that represent their respective hometowns in the Philippines.

Regionalism limits the ability of Filipino-Americans to collectively perceive themselves as “Filipino-American,” unify, and politically mobilize for specific social causes. Compellingly, civic organizations like Filipino American Community Action Group (Fil-AM CAG) attempt to transcend regional differences, foster inter-ethnic pluralism, and establish a strong coalition of Filipino-Americans rather than organizing based on regional-specific identities. While Spain played a large role in propagating Catholicism in the homeland which continues to play an instrumental role in Filipino-Americans’ lives, the overwhelming majority of Filipino-Americans in this respective community immigrated and gained citizenship by way of the United States Navy. Because of this historical-American tie, most interviewees reported a strong sense of American nationalism and a sense of ‘indebtedness’ to the United States for their American citizenship. In an effort to transcend social fragmentation, specifically regionalism—many Filipino-Americans interconnect with other Filipino-American communities in major American cities in order to maintain strong transnational ties and attempt to increase their political influence in the homeland.

As I focus on the tension between pluralism and social fragmentation, I will discuss the following themes that emerged across in-depth interviews: 1) How Religion Promotes Ethnic Insularity through the Reproduction and Reinforcement of Regional Ties and Celebration of Localized Patron Saint Holidays (Regionalism); 2) How the Historical Colonial Relationship with the United States Impacts Conceptions of U.S. Citizenship and its Implications for Modernity; and 3) How Immigrants Mutually Constitute a sense of Empowered Citizenship despite Regional-Ethnic Differences: A Paradox of Empowered Citizenship.

Overall, through exploring the interconnections between the various social institutions that immigrants navigate, we will advance our theoretical understanding of Modernity in order to shed light on citizenship in the modern world.

See you all soon,


Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Paul Chang in advance at