Skip to content

2009 SIAH

Shifting Empire: Critical Imperial Studies in the Americas and Beyond

This year’s Institute examines the concept of empire through diverse (inter-)disciplinary perspectives. Under the guidance of four faculty, students will probe the multiple struggles and negotiations that continue to shape the organization of the U.S. empire within the Americas and beyond. Focusing on the Philippines and Caribbean islands as key sites where the Empire’s material and ideological boundaries were drawn, contested, and reconfigured, it reexamines relations among three regions (Asia, the Caribbean, and the U.S.) that scholars have perceived as radically distinct. Institute students will explore the interrelations among these three regions through multidisciplinary research methodologies (e.g., textual, ethnographic, performance-based) and archives (e.g. state policies, legal challenges, literary works, media texts, oral interviews). Students will interrogate existing definitions of “empire,” uncover the circulation of commodities, peoples, practices, and ideas across imperial fields and diasporic communities, and open new areas of inquiry that they will pursue in individual and collaborative research projects of their own design. In the process they will gain skill in self-reflectively conceptualizing and producing crossdisciplinary research, with race, gender, and sexuality as important touchstones for this process.

Top of Page

Teaching Team

Kiko Benitez

Comparative Literature and Southeast Asian Studies,

Francisco “Kiko” Benitez is assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Washington. His research interests are on the multiple and often conflicting formations of modern subjectivity, nationalism and diaspora in the literature and film of insular Southeast Asia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has written essays on Filipino film and Tagalog metrical romances, and on the filmic representations of global labor markets, Overseas Filipino Workers, affect, and late capitalism. Along with Professors Bonus and Rodriguez-Silva, he organized the 2007-2008 lecture series on Shifting Empires; he was also principal co-investigator with Professor Laurie Sears (History) of the UW’s Difficult Dialogues project on Engaging Southeast Asian American Pluralism. He is currently working on a book manuscript on Filipino selfhoods under the American colonial period in the Philippines.

Rick Bonus

American Ethnic Studies and Southeast Asian Studies,

Rick Bonus is associate professor in the Department of American Ethnic Studies, adjunct associate professor in Communication, director of the Diversity Minor Program, and interim director of the Southeast Asia Center in the Jackson School. Rick is currently at work on a book manuscript that explores the politics of mentorship through an ethnography of several student mentor programs that he has helped found and direct. His previous work, Locating Filipino Americans: Ethnicity and the Cultural Politics of Space (Temple 2000) examined public practices of ethnic identity construction. He was also co-editor, with Linda Trinh Vo, of Contemporary Asian American Communities: Intersections and Divergences (Temple 2002).

Chandan Reddy


Chandan Reddy is assistant professor in the department of English. He is currently completing a book project entitled Desiring Modernity: Race, Sexuality, and Epistemologies of Violence. Other writings on the topic of race, sexuality and late capitalism include a recentand forthcoming essays on the global city, racialized and gendered undocumented workers, and the legislation of sexual minority “rights” under international human rights standards and on legal epistemologies, critical race theory and queer of color critique in the context of Loving v. Virginia. A former member and organizer with the New York-based South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association, Other Countries writing collective, and the Audre Lorde Project, Chandan currently engages queer of color cultural politics through collaborations with the Central District Forum and other Seattle-based organizations.

Ileana Rodriguez-Silva

History and Latin American Studies,

Ileana M. Rodríguez-Silva is assistant professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Washington. Her teaching and research interests focus on the formation processes of racialized subjectivities in slave and post-emancipation societies and the constitution of modern imperial organization. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled A Conspiracy of Silence: Disentangling Blackness, National Identities, and Colonial Regimes in Puerto Rico (1850-1920) (under contract with Duke University Press).

Top of Page


Top of Page