Beyond Pandas: History vs. Popular Imagination of Chinatowns
From gambling dens, tunnels, and pandas, to “exotic” foods, there has been a long history of Chinatowns being misunderstood and misrepresented. The popular imagination of Chinatowns is based on large urban centres (e.g. in Victoria and Vancouver). However, settlements of Chinese have dotted the landscape for as long as BC has been a province. They differed in size, appearance, and significance/purpose.
This is unlike media depictions, with an emphasis on a locale veiled in “mystique” and/or the back drop to an action crime thriller. Stereotypes, often negative, abound of the people and place, which continue to populate the imagination of visitors to Chinatowns. It’s a one-dimensional perspective. What are Chinatowns but the safe spaces where early Chinese lived, worked, and created community? They are places of social complexity that continue to evolve and to be ‘home.’ That sheen of the exotic past has become a desirable address; its history is being monetized. Whose voices get heard, and what are the stories being told?
In conversation with Professor Imogene Lim (Vancouver Island University), we will discuss the impacts of this evolving history, and explore ways to develop meaningful cultural programming and experiences as the City of Vancouver and the Province of BC commit to a UNESCO nomination.
Let’s change the way we talk about Chinatowns across the province and beyond.
Register for this free event. Please use the entrance on Carrall St.