Social Science of Chinatown

Whenever I go to Little Bourke Street, I think of geographer Kay Anderson’s research on Chinatown in Melbourne (she’s also done similar work in Vancouver). Anderson shows how in many multicultural cities you can find a Chinatown. They resemble one another yet they do not reflect the reality of large Chinese cities. This is because they are drafted as a project between Chinese entrepreneurs and local government with mutual benefits. For Chinese investors Chinatown establishes a business hub for trade and a promotion of culture. For local government these sites are a tourist attraction. On the one hand Chinatown represents a fixed idea of one unified Chinese culture, when in reality China is home to various cultural traditions that are always changing. On the other hand Chinatown is a successful collaboration between communities, business and government.

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