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Chinatown and Urban Redevelopment: A Spatial Narrative of Race, Identity, and Urban Politics, 1950-2000

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Title: Chinatown and Urban Redevelopment: A Spatial Narrative of Race, Identity, and Urban Politics, 1950-2000
Author(s): Li, Chuo
Director of Research: Ruggles, D. Fairchild
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Ruggles, D. Fairchild
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Faranak Miraftab; Dianne Harris
Department / Program: Landscape Architecture
Discipline: Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Urban Redevelopment Ethnic Community Cultural Politics Social Space Racial Identity
Abstract: The dissertation explores the intricate relations between landscape, race/ethnicity, and urban economy and politics in American Chinatowns. It focuses on the landscape changes and spatial struggles in the Chinatowns under the forces of urban redevelopment after WWII. As the world has entered into a global era in the second half of the twentieth century, the conditions of Chinatown have significantly changed due to the explosion of information and the blurring of racial and cultural boundaries. One major change has been the new agenda of urban land planning which increasingly prioritizes the rationality of capital accumulation. The different stages of urban redevelopment have in common the deliberate efforts to manipulate the land uses and spatial representations of Chinatown as part of the socio-cultural strategies of urban development. A central thread linking the dissertation’s chapters is the attempt to examine the contingent and often contradictory production and reproduction of socio-spatial forms in Chinatowns when the world is increasingly structured around the dynamics of economic and technological changes with the new forms of global and local activities. Late capitalism has dramatically altered city forms such that a new understanding of the role of ethnicity and race in the making of urban space is required. Using a methodology that combines field observation, personal interviews, and archive research, the research uses the case studies of three Chinatowns located in the metropolitan cities San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. The regional differences of the three Chinatowns reveal that there is no single Chinatown model but rather multiple Chinese American communities with difference experiences of urban redevelopment and spatial evolution. The comparison of these Chinatowns contributes both theoretically and empirically to our understanding of regionally-specific variations to the widespread processes of urban redevelopment and spatial apparatus based on ethnic/racial differentiations. It also reveals varying modes of landscape in staging and performing racial/ethnic identity and social activism.
Issue Date: 2011-08-26
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/26366
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Chuo Li
Date Available in IDEALS: 2013-08-27
Date Deposited: 2011-08
 

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