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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Chinatown geographies and the politics of race, space and the law Chow, Catherine W.


Vancouver's Chinatown has a dual personality: it is constructed by Chinese Canadians for themselves, and for and by a white settler society. Its material and symbolic constitution reveals an equal social order: the constitution of the space of Chinatown reproduces racial hierarchies through spatial and legal mechanisms. This thesis explores how place becomes race through law. Building from historic or cultural examinations of Chinatown, this thesis investigates the place-based mechanisms of law on the racialization of Chinatown in the 1960's. During this dynamic period of Chinatown's growth, the City of Vancouver initiated three construction projects: slum clearance, beautification and the freeway. Within these projects, there were intense struggles over the identity of Chinatown, and the Chinese. Chinatown's resistance against and complicity with these place-based legal mechanisms has been geographically articulated in its landscape, accounting for its dual personality.

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