Commentary on the seminar with Dr. Diego by Sarah Zhang

In the seminar, Dr. Diego mainly talked about the trans-Pacific realm of diasporic narrative brought to America. Spain colonizers in Philipines brought cheap labor into Mexico. On this almost impossible trip across the world, there are connection between cultures, but also conflicts between races. These labors were “devalued,” having much less value than the merchandises and very much muted from the history, the one told by the powerful. We can only put up the perspective from these Asians from a large archive of inquiries, many of which were only confessed and documented with the threat from torture and death. The problems during the trip, the extremely poor accommodations——many slaves had to live on the deck——-lack of food, water and other resources, severe weather further exacterbated the racialization. After arriving in Mexico, they continued to be treated in a dehumanizing way. They are categrorized as “Chinos” altogether. This is another example of orientalist erasure where Asian people and culture are deemed as inferior. 

This cross-cultural interaction across the Pacific Ocean significantly broaden the horizon. It involves Asian, American and European, comparing to the current Humanities course narrative where a majority is based on only US and European coutries. Also, we are often required to choose which side of the world we want to know more about, we learn East Asian history, American history, European history, but barely do we have any chance to see, in a broader picture, how these histories are interacting with each other, how different sides of the same story are told to different people around the globe, how identity is constructed and destructed during the connections and conflicts. Moreover, this trip across the Manila Galleon is restoring the whole space of the cross-Pacific migration, not just focusing on the onset (起点)and the destination. It brings us directly to the sight of inequality, this history’s own space of racialization. It documents not just the opposition between “the One” and “the Other.” What deeply troubled me is how similar the situation is comparing to the trauma of African slaves, but how come this history became absolutely muted in western narrative, and the racialization against Asian has been around for hundreds of years while it is still muted today?

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