William Gow

Performing Chinatown: Wartime Spectacles in Los Angeles, 1937-1943

This project traces the ability of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles to engage dominant understandings of race, gender, and national belonging through their participation in fundraising festivals for Chinese war relief during the late 1930s and early 1940s. At a time when the larger American public’s understanding of China and Chinese people was quickly evolving, the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 attracted broad local and often national audiences to these fundraisers. Focusing on Los Angeles, I explore how the ability of local Chinese Americans to shape the meanings of these events changed over time as national aid groups became more involved.