Keywords: Chinatown, diaspora, Chinese migration, London, identity, UK, United Kingdom, immigration, sense of belonging, China
London's Chinatown: diaspora, identity and belonging
This paper discusses some of the main findings of a recently completed research project on London's Chinatown funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council within its diasporas, migration and identities programme. This involved interviews with a range of key informants and over 50 individual Chinese people living in London about their experience and feelings about Chinatown. The paper focuses on London's Chinatown's role in the construction and maintenance of diasporic identity and practice. It highlights the importance of Chinatown to Chinese people from a range of backgrounds and migratory statuses. For many, especially newcomers, it play an essential role in their every day lives and is the first port of call for information, employment and support networks. For others, its symbolic role may be more important. Chinatown was seen as essential in acknowledging their presence and in promoting a sense of belonging. The growing importance of formal and informal economic and political links with the government of the People's Republic of China has major implications for Chinatown and for the 'diaspora' which are explored in the paper.