Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Libby Garland

Subject Categories

American Studies | Asian American Studies | Urban, Community and Regional Planning | Urban Studies and Planning


Chinatowns, New York City, Placemaking, Mega Jails, Ethnic Enclaves, Urban Boosterism


Since the late 1890s, there have been internal and external placemakers in Manhattan’s Chinatown. They take the form of city government, real estate developers, and community organizations vying for space, and seeking to define what this neighborhood should be, for whom it should serve, and how it should look. Sometimes these would-be placemakers operate with neoliberal goals and overt orientalist and/or racist views. They push those narratives through via media representations and as a tactic to attract tourism, but with little regard for how it affects the community. In this work, I examine connections between historic ideas of placemaking and placewashing in Chinatown, to co-ethnic, class-based conflicts in the 1980s, which carry into 21st century placemaking agendas. How has the neoliberal agenda in New York City affected Chinatown and its residents? Do the people who live, work, and put sweat equity into Chinatown have a right to moral ownership of their neighborhood, and how are they challenged to that ownership by capital and political interests?