Mark’s research and creative work have always been rooted in community engagement and collaboration. As a filmmaker trained in the Center for Ethnocommunications at the University of California, Los Angeles, he embraces an artistic and scholarly imperative to recuperate the stories of marginalized people and histories. The documentaries he created focused on the politics and cultural production of Filipino and Filipino American hip hop performers and are screened in classrooms, community events, festivals, and conferences around the nation and in the Philippines. His role in co-editing and contributing to the anthology Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America (Cognella Academic Publishing, 2014) exemplifies his commitment to working with artists, students, fans, educators, community organizers, and scholars in order to compile essays, poetry, and visual art. In 2014, he organized a conference around the anthology at the University of California, Irvine, where he invited students, scholars, and community members from all over California to interact with artists. For Mark, it is crucial to link scholarly work with the actual people whose culture and politics he is attempting to make visible.
His current scholarly research is inspired by the collaborations he developed as a filmmaker and co-editor. His book manuscript Savage Vernacular: Performing Race, Memory, and Hip Hop in Filipino America is the first comprehensive study to examine Filipino Americans in hip hop culture writ large. It joins recently published books that foreground Filipino American cultural performances’ constitutive relationship to U.S. empire. These performances demonstrate, in part, that a range of Filipino American performances find a cultural basis in U.S. imperialism’s material influence on the Filipino diaspora. Based on his dissertation, his book manuscript contributes pioneering scholarship on Asian American participation in hip hop. Given Filipino Americans’ early and significant contributions to hip hop culture, his project illuminates a more expansive cultural record of Asian American hip hop participation. Whereas the existing book-length studies on the topic are largely predicated on Asian Americans’ “arrival” at American culture, he reframes the relationship: Filipino American hip hop performance makes visible America’s encounter with Filipinos, a relationship that finds its genesis in the United States’ late-nineteenth century colonial “pivot to Asia,” a geopolitical maneuver that inaugurated a colonial and neocolonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines.
Condensed versions of two manuscript chapters were published in leading academic journals: “Nation in the Universe: The Cosmic Vision of Afro-Filipino Futurism” was published in Amerasia Journal and “Currents of Militarization, Flows of Hip Hop: Expanding the Geographies of Filipino American Culture” was published in the Journal of Asian American Studies.