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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tom Sarmiento Practice Job Talk

Tom Sarmiento will be presenting a practice job talk Friday, February 7th, 3 p.m., Scott Hall Commons, "What Are Filipinas/os Doing in Lima, Ohio? Or, Glee's Unconscious Avowal of US Empire. "

This talk begins with a simple question: what are Filipinas/os doing in Lima, Ohio at McKinley High--the fictional setting of the US television musical dramedy Glee? At first glance, Filipinas/os and Filipina/o-ness may seem peripheral to the show; however, upon closer examination, they pervade it--from actors to lead and supporting characters, to oblique "shout outs," and even to Jollibee (a popular Filipina/o fast-food chain) cameos. Analyzing self-identified Filipino actor Darren Criss's portrayal of Blaine Anderson, I argue that the Filipina/o actors on the show figure as the post/colonial return of the US colonial repressed, and understanding them as such explains why the characters they portray seem at once strange and familiar, threatening and desirable, queer and not. By foregrounding empire in the analysis of this US popular cultural phenomenon, I show how the specters of Filipina/o-ness everywhere on the show, as well as in US culture more broadly, become less idiosyncratic and instead transform into the remainders and reminders of US overseas expansion.