Chinatowns have been important destination points for new and old Asian diasporic communities, however many of these neighborhoods have experienced demographic changes and major shifts in land use due to gentrification. This study examines the political implications of gentrification by focusing on how Chinese American women are responding to the process on a daily basis. Drawing from two years of ethnographic research, archival research, and oral history interviews, I reveal how ordinary neighborhood spaces like Wing on Wo & Co. (永安和), the oldest store in Manhattan's Chinatown, can serve as the foundation for intergenerational grassroots action and particularly for the mobilization of women in the neighborhood. I suggest that actively listening to what women in the neighborhood talk about on a regular basis provides tremendous insight and critical perspective on how political consciousness, values, ideologies, and practices are formed or negotiated over time. This paper reveals how a younger generation of Chinese American women in Manhattan's Chinatown are using informal conversations or what I call "shop talk" to engage elders in discourses of collective memory, resistance, dissent, movement, and hope for the future of the neighborhood.


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pp. 132-148
Launched on MUSE
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