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Research Assistant Opportunity

The Evolution of Washington [Research Assistant]

The Evolution of Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown

Elizabeth Chacko

The Project: Washington, D.C. has had a Chinatown since the early 1900s. In the late 1930s, the original Chinatown, located on Pennsylvania Avenue was displaced to its present location to make room for the government buildings of the Federal Triangle. Since the 1970s, a combination of efforts to revitalize Downtown DC through urban renewal, a decline in the neighbourhood’s residential Chinese population and concurrent efforts to maintain Chinatown as ethnic space has been underway.

To understand and analyse the changing material and conceptual landscape of Chinatown, I wish to:

1. Trace the diminishing number of Chinese residents in the original 10-block area of Chinatown since the mid-1970s through the use of annual Criss-Cross directories.
2. Document the replacement of Chinese-owned businesses and services during the same time period with national chain stores and generic businesses.
3. Juxtapose and analyze the efforts of the local Chinese community to retain a Chinese presence in the area with the efforts of the city government and developers to gentrify the neighborhood.

Research Assistant Tasks: I would like a student to help me by extracting archival information from Gelman Library’s Special Collection [particularly the Harrison(Lee) Papers] and from the Criss-Cross directories available in the Martin Luther King Library in the Chinatown area.

I will work closely with the student and accompany him or her to both the Gelman and Martin Luther King libraries to show him or her the kinds of information that needs to be gathered. Some of this work has already begun.

No special skill sets are needed but I would like a student who has an interest in archival research, is reliable and pays attention to details.

Time Commitment: 1-3 hours per week

Credit Hour Option: TBD

Application Instructions: Please send me an email with your particulars ( name, year in school, major , email and phone contact,etc.) as well as why you are interested in and suitable for working on this project.

Contact Email: echacko@gwu.edu