Contested Memories of Place: Representations of Salinas’ Chinatown

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This paper explores contested memories of place in the historical recovery and community revitalization of Salinas, California's old Chinatown. For over a century, Chinatown has been home to Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and Mexicans. Today, it is occupied by the homeless, drug dealers, and addicts. Chinatown is variously remembered as the site of the best Chinese food in town, a place of gambling and prostitution, and “home.” Oral histories reveal multiple and contested significations of place: from intensely nostalgic recollections that mythify the past to distanced accounts that reveal little attachment to place. Narratives shed light on the tensions involved in cultural recovery and negotiating spatial claims across ethnic and cultural groups, generations, and social classes. Accounts also reveal how the restoration of lost community history can generate new coalitional practice.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalOral History Review
StatePublished - 2010


  • Chinatown
  • community memory
  • contested memory
  • meaning of place
  • oral history


  • Oral History
  • Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication

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