A Hinterland History of Filipino America

By Adrian De Leon

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 19 halftones, 2 maps

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7648-7
    Published: December 2023
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7647-0
    Published: December 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7649-4
    Published: November 2023

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From the late eighteenth century, the hinterlands of Northern Luzon and its Indigenous people were in the crosshairs of imperial and capitalist extraction. Combining the breadth of global history with the intimacy of biography, Adrian De Leon follows the people of Northern Luzon across space and time, advancing a new vision of the United States's Pacific empire that begins with the natives and migrants who were at the heart of colonialism and its everyday undoing. From the emergence of Luzon's eighteenth-century tobacco industry and the Hawaii Sugar Planters' Association’s documentation of workers to the movement of people and ideas across the Suez Canal and the stories of Filipino farmworkers in the American West, De Leon traces "the Filipino" as a racial category emerging from the labor, subjugation, archiving, and resistance of native people.

De Leon's imaginatively constructed archive yields a sweeping history that promises to reshape our understanding of race making in the Pacific world.

About the Author

Adrian De Leon is a writer, public historian, and assistant professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

For more information about Adrian De Leon, visit the Author Page.


"A beautifully written and brilliant retelling of the history of Filipino America. De Leon’s work deserves widespread attention from readers interested in Asian American history, US history, Indigenous histories, and histories of race and empire."—Simeon Man, University of California, San Diego

"This impressive, ambitious book promises to open new lines of conversation between Asian American studies, Indigenous studies, and settler colonial studies. De Leon blends sophisticated theoretical analysis with fluent prose in a way that undergraduate students as well as scholars will appreciate."—David Aiona Chang, University of Minnesota

"De Leon traces the emergence of two groups from northern Luzon, Ilokanos and Igorots, and reveals their racial transformation into 'Filipino.' Conscripted first into the Spanish tobacco economy and then the US agricultural industry, these people moved from the margins to the center of American empire, at once indispensable to and yet disposable for capitalist production. De Leon explores how these workers responded to and reshaped the condition of their exploitation through politics and aesthetics, while the colonial production of records, photographs, and performances laid the foundation for seeing the 'Filipino race.' De Leon's brilliant and original book deserves a wide readership."—Vicente Rafael, University of Washington