"Asylum of Incurably Lazy and Depraved Men": The Philippines as a Space of Degenerate Masculinity in the Late Fiction of Emilia Pardo Bazán

Susana Bardavío Estevan

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2021.003712


In the last decades of the nineteenth century, the presence of the Philippines in Spanish political discourses and media gradually intensified. This was caused by an increase in migration to the archipelago and by the importance that the colonies acquired in the imperialist discourse, which combined constructions of nation, race, and gender. The Spanish writer Emilia Pardo Bazán paid attention to these Pacific islands in several of her stories and articles about the colonial conflict. The perception of the Philippines as an exotic alterity allowed the author to configure the archipelago as a narrative space that subverted the hegemonic discourse where masculinity and nation merged. According to this idea, the loss of the Philippines was associated in her fiction with the absence of women as an active subject in colonial management. In this article, I focus on how Pardo Bazán portrayed the islands in her short stories and novels such as Memorias de un solterón (1896) and La sirena negra (1908). In these works, the Philippines is depicted as a masculine and pathological space, where men embody racial degeneration and are, indirectly, responsible for the loss of the colonies.


Colonial representation of the Philippines, fin-de-siècle Spanish literature, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Spanish imperialism, gender, race, and nation in fin-de-siècle Spain

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Barnard College (US)
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Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)