Anderson K J, 1988, "Cultural hegemony and the race-definition process in Chinatown, Vancouver: 1880 - 1980" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 6(2) 127 – 149
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Cultural hegemony and the race-definition process in Chinatown, Vancouver: 1880 - 1980
K J Anderson
Received 23 September 1987; in revised form 4 December 1987
Abstract. The study of systems of racial classification is not well developed in the social sciences. Within the liberal tradition of race relations research, race has more often been taken for granted than made an object of explanation itself. Marxist analysts, on the other hand, have tended to treat race, like other ideologies, as derivative of more decisive economic pressures under capitalism. Neither of these 'idealist' or materialist' perspectives gives sufficient recognition to the contribution which ideological formulations about 'race' have made to the structuring of the society and space of Western countries. That challenge is taken up in this paper and the history of the race-definition process in Vancouver, British Columbia, is examined. Attention is paid to the social construction of the racial category, 'Chinese', which persisted in white European culture for a century, from 1880 to 1980. It is demonstrated how the racial category is structured at the local level through the nexus known as 'Chinatown', and legitimized through the institutional practices of the three levels of the Canadian government. In reconstructing the historically evolving relationship between racial discourse, place, and government policy in one setting, the workings of one of the most influential of socially based hegemonies are uncovered.
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