Seeing Immigrant Growth Machines in Little Italies and Chinatowns

Tarry Hum, Queens College, and Jerry Krase, Brooklyn College

This collaborative presentation emphasizes a political economic approach to ethnic enclaves and argues that the role of capital, and particularly ethnic banks, are important, often overlooked, aspects of “immigrant growth machines” that are transforming neighborhood spaces around the globe. These “machines” consist of elite entrepreneurs such as ethnic bankers and realtors who promote development and enclave formations. Since Little Italies and Chinatowns have historical as well as contemporary relevance in this regard, the thesis will be illustrated with photographs taken in cities in China, Italy, as well as the United States. Tarry Hum and Jerome Krase assess the transferability of the concept of a global neighborhood in an international context via ethnographic and visual views of the demographic and spatial transformations that create opportunities for exchange and interaction among multiple publics. This is no mere aesthetic exercise, as they argue that these local spaces in “global” neighborhoods also provide opportunities for multi-racial democracy.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Asian American/Asian Research Institute, Queens College.