Filipino seamen currently compose approximately twenty percent of the 1.2 million international maritime transportation workers. Ninety percent of the world’s goods and commodities are transported by ship. Taken together, these statistics attest to the critical role Filipino seamen play in worldwide maritime trade. In Filipino Crosscurrents, an interdisciplinary ethnography, Kale Bantigue Fajardo examines the cultural politics of seafaring, Filipino maritime masculinities, and globalization in the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora.
Drawing on fieldwork conducted on ships and in the ports of Manila and Oakland, as well as on an industrial container ship that traveled across the Pacific, Fajardo argues that Filipino seamen have become key figures through which the Philippine state and economic elites promote Filipino masculinity and neoliberal globalization. From government officials to working-class seamen and seafarers’ advocates, Fajardo’s wide-ranging analysis exposes the gaps in dominant narratives of Filipino seamen in national, regional, and global contexts.
Writing in a hybrid style that weaves together ethnographic description, cultural critique, travelogue, and autobiography, Fajardo invites readers to reconsider the meanings of masculinity and manhood.