Author Name: Shaolu Yu
Article Title, Issue and Volume: “That is Real America!”: Imaginative Geography among the Chinese immigrants in Flushing, New York City
What is the main purpose of your study?
By using the Chinese immigrants in Flushing, New York City as an example, this study examines how their perceptions of the U.S. changed after living in the U.S., and how the images of New York City and their neighborhood are shaped in their everyday life?
What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study?
At the government level, there should be channels and policies to break down the social and cultural boundaries in order for the immigrants to gain an authentic understanding of the receiving country and region.
At the community level, agencies such as the ethnic organizations, ethnic media and ethnic businesses should challenge and deconstruct the imagined space, and foster the connections between the Chinese community and the outside world.
At the individual level, the imagined geography among immigrants are understudied but have great implications on migration pattern, transnational connections and the development of ethnic communities.
How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
The study speaks to the studies of race, ethnicity, immigration policy, community development, and urban studies.
What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
The post-migration perceptions of the U.S. among Chinese immigrants in Flushing remain imaginative not across physical distance, but across social and cultural distance.
Ethnic media and ethnic mobile resources play a major role in shaping and maintaining the imagination of the lived space among immigrants.
Ethnic community nurtures a sense of insider-ness, while at the same time, serves as a bubble that reinforces the imagined space among immigrants.
What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
The imagined geography and lived geography are mutually constituted. The former is largely shaped by locality and daily mobility. The latter reconstructs and reinforces the former. The social and political power relationships between the colonized and the colonizers create the imaginative geography of the East by the West (Orientalism). However, seldom discussed is the imaginative geography of the West by the East (Occidentalism), that equally exists due to the world power hierarchy.
Third, space is marginalized space. If radicalized, the lived space is liberating and de-marginalizing; if not, it reinforces the ethnocentric perspective through which both the inside and outside world are seen. The consequences are the reinforcement of geography of the Others, as well as the subsequent perpetuation of the social hierarchy and spatial segregation.
How does your research help us think about Geography?