Book talk with Vernadette Gonzalez (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa)

Monday, October 18, 2021
4:00 PM - 5:15 PM (Pacific Time)

Image for Calendar ButtonImage for Calendar Button

How does attention to the intimate help us understand the gendered and sexualized dynamics of empire, and the ways in which they continue to shape how we tell our stories in the present? Empire’s Mistress pieces together the life story of Isabel Rosario Cooper, a mixed-race vaudeville and early cinema star in Manila who became infamous for her liaison with General Douglas MacArthur during the height of American colonialism in the Philippines. It tracks the mobilities and relationships generated by the United States’ desire for the Philippine archipelago—and the ways in which colonized subjects—particularly women—turned those to their own advantage. The scattered and ephemeral archive of “women like her” whose cosmopolitan itineraries ranged from Manila, to Washington, D.C., and Hollywood, outline a life lived on the edges of power but always at the center of imperial desire. 

Vernadette Gonzalez is Professor of American Studies and Director of the Honors Program at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. Her areas of research include studies of tourism and militarism, transnational cultural studies, feminist theory, postcolonial studies, and cultural studies with a focus on Asia and the Pacific. She has a PhD in Ethnic Studies from the UC Berkeley. Her most recent book, Empire’s Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper (Duke 2021) is an exploration of the intimacies of imperial geopolitics through the life story of a mixed-race vaudeville and film actress and sometime mistress of General Douglas MacArthur. 

She is coeditor, with Hōkūlani K. Aikau, of Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai’i (Duke 2019), which curates alternative, place based narratives, art, and itineraries that present a decolonial archive and vision for life in Hawai’i. Detours now anchors a book series with Duke University Press, with volumes on Guåhan/Guam, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Okinawa, Singapore and other sites in development. Her first book, Securing Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai‘i and the Philippines (Duke 2013) won the Association for Asian American Studies book award for the best book in cultural studies published in 2013. In 2016, she co-edited, with Jana K. Lipman and Teresia Teaiwa, an American Quarterly special issue on the convergences of tourism and militarism. 

Her other published work can be found in several collections, including Tourism Geopolitics (U. Arizona 2021); Making the Empire Work (NYU 2015); Mobile Desires (Palgrave 2015); Transnational Crossroads (U. Nebraska 2012); as well as in journals such as Journal of Tourism History (2020); Shima (2020); Radical History Review (2017 and 2015); The Journal of Sustainable Tourism (2017) and Critical Ethnic Studies (2017). 


To register for the Zoom link, click here.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Asian American Studies Department