community politics

The Diverse Perspectives of Symbolic Displacement: Unpacking Gentrification in an Urban Chinatown

August 23, 2021 // 0 Comments

By Laureen D. Hom (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona) | Throughout my fieldwork in Los Angeles Chinatown, I was fortunate to meet many different stakeholders to try to understand how gentrification was impacting the neighborhood. As I visited different community organizations and attended public meetings, community leaders shared their different experiences being a part of Chinatown, which led to very diverse, and often conflicting, perspectives of gentrification. At one meeting held at the local elementary school, I was introduced to a city planner, and we casually talked about our observations about gentrification in Los Angeles. As we were ending our conversation, he briefly mentioned to me how they were not just looking at demographic shifts and property value changes, but were trying to “capture the sentiment” of communities. This fleeting comment stuck with me as I realized that he may have been doing that right now at this event as he briefly spoke with almost all the different community leaders. This resonated with me throughout my fieldwork as I learned more about the community – and continues as I visit Chinatown today. When I walk through the neighborhood, my understanding of an apartment complex, the public library, or shopping plaza has completely transformed from what I thought a few years ago. I associated it with certain people and their stories, that shaped my understanding and attachment to these places. Read More