Mistaken for an Empire: A Memoir in Tongues

Mistaken for an Empire: A Memoir in Tongues - Christine Imperial

Mistaken for an Empire: A Memoir in Tongues


Born in postcolonial Philippines into a family--and country--with a complicated history, Christine Imperial learns from a lifetime of experiences that there is no easy path to understanding or belonging. Setting out to renew her relationship to Tagalog, the language she had previously distanced herself from, she contends with the meaning of her dual Philippine/US citizenship along with the conditions surrounding it, reflecting on imperialist and class systems and the history of her birth country. Beginning with an attempt to translate into Tagalog Rudyard Kipling's "The White Man's Burden"--Kipling's ode to American imperialism after the US takeover of the Philippines--Imperial reflects on and writes against Kipling's poem as she unspools her fractured family's story.

Reckoning with both the anguish and promise of hybridity, Mistaken for an Empire expands into an exploration of the author's relationship to English and Tagalog, history, family and state, origin and belonging. By interrogating the many intricacies of individual and national identity and the legacies that shape them, Imperial grapples with the tangled nature of allegiance, whether it be to family, to country, or to self.

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Born in postcolonial Philippines into a family--and country--with a complicated history, Christine Imperial learns from a lifetime of experiences that there is no easy path to understanding or belonging. Setting out to renew her relationship to Tagalog, the language she had previously distanced herself from, she contends with the meaning of her dual Philippine/US citizenship along with the conditions surrounding it, reflecting on imperialist and class systems and the history of her birth country. Beginning with an attempt to translate into Tagalog Rudyard Kipling's "The White Man's Burden"--Kipling's ode to American imperialism after the US takeover of the Philippines--Imperial reflects on and writes against Kipling's poem as she unspools her fractured family's story.

Reckoning with both the anguish and promise of hybridity, Mistaken for an Empire expands into an exploration of the author's relationship to English and Tagalog, history, family and state, origin and belonging. By interrogating the many intricacies of individual and national identity and the legacies that shape them, Imperial grapples with the tangled nature of allegiance, whether it be to family, to country, or to self.

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