Chinatowns vs Chinese Towns

Full panel title

Chinatowns vs Chinese Towns in Southeast Asia and Europe


Justine Romolacci (IrAsia)

Date and time

12 August, 16:00 – 17:30


Room 46


  • Ampheng in Bangkok: How to Transform a Chinese Settlement of Ill Repute into an Attractive Place for Tourists
    Jean Baffie (IrAsia)
  • Divide and Brand: Public Space, Tourism, and Politics in a Malaysian World Heritage City
    Pierpaolo De Giosa (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
  • The concept of Chinatown in Europe: A Comparision with two Chinese areas: Prato and Marseille
    Justine Romolacci (IrAsia)

Panel abstract

The Chinatown concept is mostly a Western – initially North American – concept. In Southeast Asia some largest towns have been founded by Chinese settlers – i.e. Kuala Lumpur – or have been peopled by a very large Chinese population, at time a majority of the whole – i.e. Singapore, Bangkok. In Vietnam, Cholon used to be a twin Chinese city of Saigon before being incorporated as Western districts. In Thai towns, historical records mention Chinese streets instead of widespread Chinese neighborhoods. The notion of Chinatown has been a recent introduction with the objective to put the Yaowarat area on the tourist map. The universal arch is usually raised up to give a materialized entrance to Chinatowns.

The objective of this panel is double. Pointing out the differences in Chinese urban settlements in Southeast Asia and Western countries; trying to understand the way Chinatowns and other Chinese areas were born all over the world.