7-10 Noviembre 2012

Facultat de Geografia i Història - Universitat de Barcelona


  • Call for Papers (cerrado)
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  • Miércoles 7/11/2012

    Jueves 8/11/2012

    Viernes 9/11/2012

    Sábado 10/11/2012

    Miércoles 7 de Noviembre de 2012, 15:00h

    Global Chinatowns: Social Movements, Urban Conflict and the Renegociation of Space

    Gary W. McDonogh (Bryn Mawr College, USA)




    Chinatowns, while often relegated to the status of quaint touristic centers, actually embody one of the most striking global social movements of the contemporary era: the mass migration of millions of Chinese across the world since the mid-nineteenth century, forming a distinctive transnational population in an age of global movement, yet localized in negotiation with myriad host cities and nations.  This macro-movement, in turn, often has been met with local/national conflicts, ranging from violent attacks in the United States, Australia, Mexico and Indonesia to racialized and gendered restrictions on rights and citizenship across the world to reductionist images of otherness that separate Chinese from their coresidents in global cities.  Nonetheless, Chinatowns also have come to represent more positive values within their varied urban contexts, including Chinese adaptive reuse of decaying near central spaces and the importance of cosmopolitanness, connection and modernity that Chinese establishments may convey. Today, moreover, with the growing power of global China, transnational Chinatowns offer the possibilities of investment and even affirm “world city” status – can a truly global city lack this distinctive transnational enclave?  Drawing on comparative ethnographic and historical materials from Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, this paper explores how the distinctive spaces and imageries of Chinatowns, negotiated among global and local social conflicts, provide places of balance and even change in cities worldwide.   It suggests that to understand urban movements and conflicts, we must also examine peace, co-residence and adaptation within longterm individual and comparative histories.