Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Episodes in the life of a place: Regional racial formation in Los Angeles's San Gabriel Valley
by Cheng, Wendy Hsin, Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2009, 298; 3368697
Abstract (Summary)

Episodes in the Life of a Place develops a theory of regional racial formation through examining the everyday experiences of residents of four cities in the West San Gabriel Valley (SGV), an area which became known in the 1980s and 1990s as a "suburban Chinatown," but which is in fact a multiethnic, majority-Asian American and Latina/o space. Drawing from episodic case studies, cognitive maps, and in-depth interviews with diverse Asian American and Latina/o residents, I examine how hierarchies of race, ethnicity, and class are shaped by racialized relationships to property, neighborhood-based social formations, and key institutions of civil society such as high school and the Boy Scouts of America. How have Asian American and Latinas/os' movements into the West SGV been shaped by, and subsequently productive of, differentially racialized relationships to property? What kind of "world(s) of their own" (to paraphrase Matt Garcia) have they made collectively, in what have become largely non-White, suburban, middle-income neighborhoods? What affective and political possibilities do such spaces allow or foreclose, which are distinct from those articulated in majority-White settings? Finally, how are ideological linkages between notions of race and space formative of local civic landscapes? In my analysis, three important themes emerge: the intertwined relationship of race, property, homeownership, and privilege; the essential role of institutions of civil society in reconciling regional epistemes and practices with national ideologies; and the development of an emergent 'non-White' identity rooted in middle-class and suburban contexts. I find that people's experiences and everyday landscapes in the West SGV are simultaneously saturated with dominant racial ideologies and their attendant material outcomes, and rich with alternative narratives of pasts, presents, and futures. These contradictions and possibilities illustrate the importance of considering neighborhoods and regions as units of analysis in order to understand processes of racial formation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gilmore, Ruth W.
Commitee: Lloyd, David, Nguyen, Viet T., Pulido, Laura
School: University of Southern California
Department: American Studies and Ethnicity
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: American studies, Geography, Ethnic studies, Hispanic American studies
Keywords: Asian American, California, Comparative ethnic studies, Latino, Los Angeles, Racial formation, San Gabriel Valley, Suburban
Publication Number: 3368697
ISBN: 9781109294859
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