The Politics of Gentrification
This research project examines the democratic implications of gentrification and displacement in New York City, San Francisco, and Boston Chinatowns. In this multisite, multilingual, and multimodal study, Diane draws from three years of ethnographic fieldwork and oral history interviews with over one hundred individuals including tenants, community organizers, restaurant and garment workers, small businesses, artists, public health workers, nonprofit professionals, and elected officials. Bridging together literature on Asian diaspora studies, democratic theory, urban governance, race and ethnic studies, comparative immigration, gender and sexuality, and critical geography, her study provides a nuanced understanding of the conditions under which Chinese immigrants and youth are active in the making of urban space and urban politics, shifting way from a common narrative that portrays them as disengaged from democratic processes. From establishing tenant associations and taking predatory landlords to housing court to using community-led street projections to uplift narratives of cultural erasure to playing 9-Man volleyball as resistance to state sanctioned developments, each chapter captures a snapshot of how frontline communities are mobilizing to stay in their homes. Fundamentally, the research and methods used in this study broadens how we conceptualize American politics and where it unfolds on the ground, importantly shaping how scholars, organizers, and practitioners understand the relationship between immigrant communities, democratic citizenship, and political possibilities.
Detention, Deportation, and Democratic Citizenship
Drawing from her experience as a community organizer in New York City, this project explores grassroots mobilization around deportation in different Asian immigrant communities across the city. Even though displacement through deportation is one of the most critical issues that face American cities, there has not been much attention paid to how different Asian immigrant groups mobilize around the issue as well as the opportunities or challenges that arise in building interethnic, intraethnic, and intergenerational solidarity networks. By working closely with several grassroots groups in the city, she is interested in documenting how Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Cambodian, and South Asian immigrants and refugees might develop a mutual language around the issue of mass deportation and detention that includes exchanging narratives of migration, trauma, cultural memory, belonging, and survival. Diane is particularly interested in exploring how street encounters with the detention and deportation system shape the ways in which Asian immigrants understand their relationship to the government and broader democratic processes.
Media Misinformation and Chinese American Conservatism
Informed by findings from her dissertation research, this ethnographic study examines how media misinformation politically impacts Chinese Americans in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago. Although Chinese Americans have historically been identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, within the last five years conservative Chinese Americans have been mobilizing politically on and offline around the issues of policing, immigration detention, affirmative action, and data disaggregation. In partnership with community-based organizations in each of the five cities, this study uses a unique combination of ethnography, qualitative interviews, and focus group discussions to investigate how disinformation spreads in Chinese immigrant communities and fosters ideological polarization. This study focuses on traditional media outlets like the World Journal (世界日報) and Sing Tao Daily (星島日報) in addition to social media platforms like Wechat and WhatsApp. Through this research, Diane is most interested in documenting the role of technology and new media in shaping contemporary immigrant politics and ideologies across generations. This study will also reveal how encounters of misinformation can shape levels of political participation, civic engagement, intragroup trust, and social capital.
The Political Potential of Single Room Occupancies
The rising cost of housing in American cities has led to an affordability crisis for many residents who face considerable rent burdens and live in increasingly precarious circumstances. Even though single room occupancies (SROs) are often the housing of last resort for families on the brink of homelessness, it is the least understood type of housing and limited data exists to capture the experiences of those who currently reside in SROs. This study examines the political lives of SRO tenants in New York City and San Francisco Chinatowns. Since most of what we currently know about Asian immigrant politics in the United States is within the electoral arena, the findings from this project will expand our understanding of how housing and poverty together can shape democratic politics for these communities. Diane utilizes survey research and oral history interviews with SRO residents and their family members in to gain a deeper understanding of their political attitudes, civic values and interactions with government.