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Talk: Ambiguous Belonging: Race, Citizenship, and Filipinos in the U.S. Empire

April 18 @ 3:00 PM 4:30 PM

This talk is part of the Spring 2019 Philippine Studies Colloquium Series.

For disability access, contact Clem Montero at 956-6086 or email

About the Talk

Just over 70 years ago, President Truman signed an act that revoked a path to U.S. citizenship and social welfare benefits from Filipino veterans. This is the only time in U.S. history that Congress revoked military benefits. This talk will address how and why the United States went back on this promise. Uncovering the answer to these questions requires delving back to the turn of the 20th Century – when the United States first took the Philippines and other island colonies from Spain. From the early days of U.S. conquest and rule over the archipelago, U.S. politicians, bureaucrats, and legal professionals constructed Filipinos as racial outsiders. By considering the imperial activities of the United States, this talk illuminates the legal tools employed by state actors in the construction of unequal citizenship statuses. It also considers how U.S. activities beyond its presumed national boundaries are constitutive of racial inequality. Uncovering what happened to these often forgotten Filipino veterans is part of the history of how the United States defined itself as a white “nation.”

About the Speaker

Dr Katrina Quisumbing King

Dr. Katrina Quisumbing King is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Southern California. In fall 2020, she will join Northwestern University as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. Her research interests center on race and ethnicity, migration and citizenship, state-making, law and society, and theory. She studies racial classification and exclusion from a historical perspective that foregrounds the state’s authority to manage populations. She is particularly interested in the ways state actors conceive of and make decisions around race and citizenship. Her research re-centers empire as a key political formation. In the U.S. context, she focuses especially on how state actors define colonized populations and how these people fit into the U.S. racial order.

Professor Quisumbing King’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and has received awards from the American Sociological Association’s sections on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, Political Sociology, and Comparative Historical Sociology. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2018. During the 2016-2017 academic year, she was a Provost’s Predoctoral Fellow at MIT. 

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