The opening chapter summarizes the core themes and landmark events or developments in the historical narrative study from the initial colonial project of the US in the Philippines to the endemic “criminalization” of Filipino migrant workers in law and society, the second generation of worker’s aspirational political struggles, the murder of two reform leaders in 1981, and the devastating Wards Cove ruling in the late 1980s that rebuffed the workers’ claims and eviscerated civil rights law. After explaining the key terms in the book’s title – “by law” and “union” – the chapter outlines the core theoretical frameworks for the book, including legal mobilization theory, critical race theory, and racial capitalist analysis of the larger sociolegal context of workers’ rights struggles. Also discussed is the rationale for the historical research design, the constitutive approach to analysis of power, the role of Carlos Bulosan as literary chronicler and activist subject, and the unique, subtle epistemological and methodological standpoint of the book’s authors.
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