Tobia, Jacob. Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019.
From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “cargo shorts” and “SPORTS!” Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world–one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.
Boylan, Jennifer Finney. She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. Broadway Books, 2013.
When she changed genders, she changed the world. It was the groundbreaking publication of She’s Not There in 2003 that jump-started the transgender revolution. By turns hilarious and deeply moving, Boylan—a cast member on I Am Cait; an advisor to the television series Transparent, and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times—explores the territory that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices in the redeeming power of love and family.
Immerwahr, Daniel. How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019.
We are familiar with maps that outline all fifty states. And we are also familiar with the idea that the United States is an “empire,” exercising power around the world. But what about the actual territories—the islands, atolls, and archipelagos—this country has governed and inhabited? In How to Hide an Empire, Daniel Immerwahr tells the fascinating story of the United States outside the United States. In crackling, fast-paced prose, he reveals forgotten episodes that cast American history in a new light.
Kinzer, Stephen. Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. Times Books, 2007.
“Regime change” did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush, but has been an integral part of U.S. foreign policy for more than one hundred years. Starting with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and continuing through the Spanish-American War and the Cold War and into our own time, the United States has not hesitated to overthrow governments that stood in the way of its political and economic goals. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 is the latest, though perhaps not the last, example of the dangers inherent in these operations. In Overthrow, Stephen Kinzer tells the stories of the audacious politicians, spies, military commanders, and business executives who took it upon themselves to depose monarchs, presidents, and prime ministers. He also shows that the U.S. government has often pursued these operations without understanding the countries involved; as a result, many of them have had disastrous long-term consequences.
Kinzer, Stephen. The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire. Henry Holt & Co., 2017.
How should the United States act in the world? Americans cannot decide. Sometimes we burn with righteous anger, launching foreign wars and deposing governments. Then we retreat—until the cycle begins again. No matter how often we debate this question, none of what we say is original. Every argument is a pale shadow of the first and greatest debate, which erupted more than a century ago. Its themes resurface every time Americans argue whether to intervene in a foreign country. Revealing a piece of forgotten history, Stephen Kinzer transports us to the dawn of the twentieth century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation.
Gosset, Reina, and Eric A. Stanley, eds. Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture). MIT Press, 2017.
The increasing representation of trans identity throughout art and popular culture in recent years has been nothing if not paradoxical. Trans visibility is touted as a sign of a liberal society, but it has coincided with a political moment marked both by heightened violence against trans people (especially trans women of color) and by the suppression of trans rights under civil law. Trap Door grapples with these contradictions. The essays, conversations, and dossiers gathered here delve into themes as wide-ranging yet interconnected as beauty, performativity, activism, and police brutality. Collectively, they attest to how trans people are frequently offered “doors”—entrances to visibility and recognition—that are actually “traps,” accommodating trans bodies and communities only insofar as they cooperate with dominant norms.
Karnow, Stanley. In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines. Ballentine Books, 2016.
Stanley Karnow won the Pulitzer Prize for this account of America’s imperial experience in the Philippines. In a swiftly paced, brilliantly vivid narrative, Karnow focuses on the relationship that has existed between the two nations since the United States acquired the country from Spain in 1898, examining how we have sought to remake the Philippines “in our image,” an experiment marked from the outset by blundering, ignorance, and mutual misunderstanding.
Foster, John Bellamy. Naked Imperialism: the U.S. Pursuit of Global Dominance. Monthly Review Press, 2006.
During the Cold War years, mainstream commentators were quick to dismiss the idea that the United States was an imperialist power. Even when U.S. interventions led to the overthrow of popular governments, as in Iran, Guatemala, or the Congo, or wholesale war, as in Vietnam, this fiction remained intact. During the 1990s and especially since September 11, 2001, however, it has crumbled. Today, the need for American empire is openly proclaimed and defended by mainstream analysts and commentators. John Bellamy Foster’s Naked Imperialismexamines this important transformation in U.S. global policy and ideology, showing the political and economic roots of the new militarism and its consequences both in the global and local context.
Talusan, Grace. The Body Papers: A Memoir. Restless Books, 2019.
Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather’s nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family. Talusan learns as a teenager that her family’s legal status in the country has always hung by a thread—for a time, they were “illegal.” Family, she’s told, must be put first.
Velasco Shaw, Angel and Luis. H. Francia. Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream 1899-1999. NYU Press, 2002.
U.S. intervention in the Philippines began with the little-known 1899 Philippine-American War. Using the war as its departure point in analyzing U.S.—Philippine relations, Vestiges of War retrieves this willfully forgotten event and places it where it properly belongs—as the catalyst that led to increasing U.S. interventionism and expansionism in the Asia Pacific region. This seminal, multidisciplinary anthology examines the official American nationalist story of “benevolent assimilation” and fraternal tutelage in its half century of colonial occupation of the Philippines.
Mendoza, S. Lily and Strobel, Leny Mendoza. Back from the Crocodile’s Belly: Philippine Babaylan Studies and the Struggle for Indigenous Memory. Center for Babaylan Studies, 2013.
Back from the Crocodile’s Belly is a celebration of the beauty, richness, and diversity of indigenous ways of being as revealed in the critical studies and creative performances of living native traditions in the Philippines and in the United States diaspora. Through the use of primary and secondary research, the re-reading of historical and cultural archives, and the articulation of silenced stories, the book seeks to open up space for an alternative discourse on indigenous knowledge that does not merely reproduce progressivist and social evolutionary paradigms that invariably position the Indigenous Subject as “primitive,” “barbaric,” and nothing more than a “quaint relic of the past.”
Benedicto, Bobby. Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene. University of Minnesota Press, 2014.
Bobby Benedicto draws on ethnographic research and employs affective, first-person storytelling techniques to capture the visceral experience of Manila, painting a remarkably counterintuitive portrait of gay spaces in postcolonial cities. He argues that Filipino gay men’s pursuit of an elusive global gay modernity sustains the very class, gender, and racial hierarchies that structure urban life in the Philippines.
Johnson, Mark. Beauty and Power: Transgendering and Cultural Transformation in the Southern Philippines. London, UK: Berg Publishers, 1997.
This compelling study of gender and sexual diversity in the Southern Philippines addresses general questions about the relationship between the making of gender and sexualities, the politics of national and ethnic identities and processes of cultural transformation in a world of contract labourers and transnational consumers.
Manalansan, Martin F. Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora. Duke University Press, 2003.
A vivid ethnography of the global and transnational dimensions of gay identity as lived by Filipino immigrants in New York City, Global Divas challenges beliefs about the progressive development of a gay world and the eventual assimilation of all queer folks into gay modernity. Insisting that gay identity is not teleological but fraught with fissures, Martin Manalansan IV describes how Filipino gay immigrants, like many queers of color, are creating alternative paths to queer modernity and citizenship.