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Shadowing the White Man's BurdenU.S. Imperialism and the Problem of the Color Line$
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Gretchen Murphy

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814795989

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814795989.001.0001

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The Plain Citizen of Black Orientalism

The Plain Citizen of Black Orientalism

Frank R. Steward’s Filipino American War Fiction

(p.87) 3 The Plain Citizen of Black Orientalism
Shadowing the White Man's Burden

Gretchen Murphy

NYU Press

This chapter examines the fiction of Frank R. Steward, an African American captain who served in the U.S. Volunteer Army in the Philippines during the Filipino-American War. His short stories feature a formal experiment in literary perspective: unraced narrators whom readers can choose to identify as black or white. The chapter links this choice to Steward's interests both in detaching race from nation in representations of black military service and in opposing conventional representations of black soldiers structured by the forms of local color and plantation; however, the effect of his stories is hardly to champion a raceless American self in opposition to a raced Filipino other. The stories graft a number of familiar colonial binaries onto the foundational dualism of self and other, such as civilized/savage, male/female, writing/speech, order/disorder, and yet they also fundamentally destabilize notions of white U.S. empire and create affiliations between Filipinos abroad and African Americans at home.

Keywords:   Frank R. Steward, U.S. Volunteer Army, Philippines, Filipino-American War, unraced, black military service, colonial binaries, white U.S. empire

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