Harrod J. Suarez
Harrod J. Suarez was born in Manila and grew up in the Bay Area. After stints in Columbia, Missouri; Brooklyn, New York; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Diego, California, en route to completing his Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, he is currently Assistant Professor of English and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and is at work on his first book, The Mother of Invention: Diasporic Filipinas and Cultures of Insolence. He also created and curates two web-based projects, Poetastic and #apresfanon.
My work—which encompasses my scholarship, teaching, and creative projects—unfolds on its own terms, and it is only in retrospect that I am able to clarify only a few of the directions I believe it has taken and only a few of the interventions I think it makes. While it does not speak for itself, neither is my speech adequate (hence “only a few”). It will have to be spoken for, by others including me. There are critical links I pursue across the broad category of empire, which I narrow down into the heuristic categories of gender and sexuality, language and culture, and diaspora and globalization. In particular, I am inspired by the ways we fail to reproduce who we (as Filipina/os, as gendered subjects, as im/migrants, etc.) were supposed to have been.
There is undoubtedly a violence and trauma that is central to this narrative, and which continues to be well documented by artists, critics, writers, scholars, and activists. But I insist on advocating for the minor, perhaps transient, ways that this collective (some might say biopolitical) failure also delivers pleasures and subversions that may remain illegible within our current frameworks. It may sound naïve, arrogant, or even inconsequential, but the same advice I give to my students colors—in rich, vivid hues, at least I think—my life and work: If your biggest contributions to this world, to this life, are things that can be measured, affirmed, celebrated, and recognized by our institutions and our current epistemologies, then you will not have been ambitious enough. We (need to) aspire to exceed the calculations and calibrations of empire—not along the lines of the model minority, but along the rhizomatic detours that we (can) conjure up in response to the diverse challenges we face.
- Born: Manila, Philippines
- Based: The diaspora