Winner of the 2012 Outstanding Book Award in Cultural Studies, Association for Asian American Studies Puro Arte explores the emergence of Filipi American theater and performance from the early 20th century to the present. It stresses the Filipi performing body's location as it conjoins colonial histories of the Philippines with U.S. race relations and discourses of globalization. Puro arte, translated from Spanish into English, simply means pure art. In Filipi, puro arte however performs a much more ironic function, gesturing rather to the labor of over-acting, histrionics, playfulness, and purely over-the-top dramatics. In this book, puro arte functions as an episteme, a way of approaching the Filipi/a performing body at key moments in U.S.-Philippine imperial relations, from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, early American plays about the Philippines, Filipi patrons in U.S. taxi dance halls to the phemen of Filipi/a actors in Miss Saigon. Using this varied archive, Puro Arte turns to performance as an object of study and as a way of understanding complex historical processes of racialization in relation to empire and colonialism.
Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.