Organized Panel Session
Recent scholarship on the diasporic architecture of Asian-American communities has drawn attention to the diversity of the U.S. built environment. However, much of this scholarship remains rooted in approaches that evoke nostalgia, rather than stimulating critical analysis. Many studies of the spaces used and shaped by racial-ethnic minorities focus upon specific building types and urban forms constructed with a clear intent to express cultural identity in visual and material form, such as temples and community centers. In a similar vein, studies of migration and settlement by scholars of Asian American Studies have drawn primarily from ethnographic and sociological approaches, rather than spatial or architectural modes of analysis. These approaches neglect the contested, multivalent aspect of urban and suburban spaces predominantly occupied by immigrant communities. This panel addresses the diasporic built environment of Asian-American communities by drawing upon Henri Lefebvre’s notion of the social production of space, rather than a visual analysis of iconic building types. Building upon pioneering studies of the contested uses of space by Dell Upton and others, recently scholars including Nancy Kwak and James Zarsadiaz have addressed the complex ways in which different Asian-American groups have spatially negotiated issues of identity and belonging. By addressing everyday spaces of commerce, residence and urban interaction, our panel seeks to elucidate a more inclusive and dynamic understanding of the ways in which social actors and are constrained by broader socio-political and cultural factors visible in the built environment.