Performing Belonging and Contesting Yellow Peril

Thursday, March 15, 2018
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm, Young Research Library - Library Presentation Room 11348

China Relief Fundraisers in Los Angeles's Old Chinatown, 1938-1941

See below for additional information.


Free and open to the public.


Asian American Studies Center
(310) 825-2974


Additional Information

William Gow is a UC Dissertation-Year Fellow in the Ethnic Studies Department at UC Berkeley.

In October of 1938, Old Chinatown hosted the Moon Festival, a war relief fundraiser to support Chinese victims of the Sino-Japanese War. The festival was modeled on Bowl of Rice fundraisers held across the nation that summer and occurred at a moment when the merchants of Old Chinatown were facing an existential threat.

Over the prior five years, most of the community had been destroyed by Union Station construction, and the remaining section of Old Chinatown now faced increased competition from the recently opened China City and New Chinatown tourist districts.

Many of the festival organizers and performers had ties to the film industry, and they utilized the festival to critically engage Orientalist imagery from Hollywood films.

The 1938 Moon Festival attracted more than 30,000 patrons to the old neighborhood providing the festival organizers with a chance to reassert the community's presence while shaping the popular image of the community through the performance of ethnic difference.

Drawing in part on the collections of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles, and the Southern California Chinese American Oral History project in UCLA Special Collections, this talk examines China Relief fundraisers in Los Angeles as sites of cultural contestation where members of the Chinese American ethnic enclave performed race, gender, and nation at a critical moment in the community's history.

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