chapter  15
17 Pages

Making/marketing heritage: Chinatowns in Southeast Asia

BySERENE K. TAN

Anderson, in the above quote, suggests that the landscape of Chinatown is an intentionally constructed thing. Chinatowns are economic landscapes structured by socio-cultural practices. They are not merely spaces of ethno-cultural heritage, but also significant economic spaces within the city. Anderson (1991) contends that the landscape of Chinatown is deliberately fashioned to appeal to the eye of the outsider, possibly drawing the attention of tourists by virtue of its difference and its exoticism, making it a space of cultural commodity – not uncommon in the ever-increasing intersections of culture and economy in space (see Lash and Urry, 1994; Molotch, 2002; Kearns and Philo, 1993; Urry, 2002). At the same time, Chinatown is already a space of economy, its existing commercial function (as markets and spaces of commodity exchange) denoted by the presence of merchants. In this quote, Anderson hints at the types of economic space that Chinatown, as an ethnic enclave, possibly encompasses. As global phenomena founded in inner city areas and dominated by Chinese merchants and traders, Chinatowns are historically economic urban landscapes.