Dr. Jason Luna Gavilan was born on Veterans’ Day in 1979, in Lemoore Naval Air Station in California. Inspired by events related to his father’s (tatay’s), mother’s (nanay’s), uncle’s (tiyo’s), and grandfather’s (lolo’s) veteran service in the US Navy, he chose to pursue research and creative interests that locate personal histories, comparative racial politics, and global impacts of Filipino and other ethno-racial military enlistments: primarily as a scholar, and secondarily as a poet.
As a scholar, Jason Luna Gavilan received a doctoral degree from the Department of History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Historical and literary approaches in Philippine/Filipino American studies, Asian American studies, twentieth-century modern United States History, empire studies, and ethnic studies inform and shape his research and teaching experience. His research, teaching, and writing goals within higher education are twofold: (1) to contribute to the overall diversity of higher education with the best of his growing knowledge, training, experience, and learning capabilities; and (2) to research, teach, and write about the changing politics of diversity from within and beyond the discipline of history. Jason Luna Gavilan successfully defended his dissertation, “The Politics of Enlistment, Empire, and the ‘US-Philippine Nation’: Enlisted and Civilian Filipino Workers in and beyond the US Navy, 1941-1965,” on June 12, 2012—Philippine Independence Day. He filed his dissertation on September 18, 2012, and it is now available in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. He also wrote an article titled “The Right Place at the Right Time’: A Strategic Genealogy behind the Alliance between the Black Panther Party and the Yellow Power Movement, late 1960s to early 1970s” for the University of California, Berkeley’s history journal Clio’s Scroll. Dr. Gavilan currently resides in Fresno, California and is working on three projects: (1) the manuscript version of his dissertation; (2) a recently finished article, “Of ‘Mates’ and Men: The Comparative Racial Politics of Filipino Naval Enlistment, 1941-1945,” which will be published in Critical Ethnic Studies: An Anthology; and (3) a piece written with historian Alex Fabros about a Filipino enlistee of the First Infantry Regiment who also became an internee in the relocation camps during World War II.
As a poet, Jason Luna Gavilan has performed in open mics, poetry events, and theatrical plays. Themes of nonviolent political consciousness, self and collective empowerment, and other various contents and forms of decolonization facilitate the contours of his poetry and performance pieces. Jason Luna Gavilan has shared his poetry and spoken words in various universities and other venues, including UC, Berkeley; the Nuyorican Café in New York City; the University of Michigan; the Matrix Theatre in Detroit, Michigan; University of California, Riverside; and the University of Hong Kong. He also performed in the 24th annual Pilipino Cultural Night at UC Berkeley (2000) and in a play called “Let’s Talk about AIDS” (Hong Kong, 2001). He was also one of the co-writers of “Negotiating the Academic Industrial Complex: A Three-Act Play,” a humorous series of skits about the art and politics of navigating through the academic industrial complex. Jason Luna Gavilan’s poetry and writings have been featured in various publications, including “For My Áte” in the Michigan-based Filipinas (April 2007); and “Parang Tatay Ko” in the inaugural issue of Saling Sarili: A Journal of Philippine and Filipino Studies (2008). Along with his historical monograph and articles, Dr. Gavilan is composing a poetry anthology about the transnational and trans-historical impact of writer, researcher and poet Carlos Bulosan.
During the preliminary stages of his doctoral work at the University of Michigan (2003-2004), Jason Luna Gavilan conducted a series of interviews with Filipino Navy retirees and their relatives. These transnational interviews occurred in Fresno, California, and in the Cavite Province in Luzon, Philippines, respectively. One of his interviews, with Larion Luna Toledo, is featured in the June 2013 launching of the Center for Art and Thought (CA+T).