Hidden Histories, Radical Reimaginings reveals and connects the parallel stories of Pittsburgh and San Francisco’s Chinatowns, separated by 2,500 miles and united by shared stories of migration. San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest Chinese enclaves in the Asian diaspora, yet few know of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown, which disappeared over half a century ago. Most of the Chinese immigrants in Pittsburgh made their way from California, where they initially landed seeking economic opportunity from the 1849 Gold Rush and the transcontinental railroads. Today, only one building remains standing from Pittsburgh’s original Chinatown, which was finally recognized in 2022 with a Pennsylvania Historical Marker after many years of advocacy from the Chinese community.
The event includes:
- Screening of The Last Mayor of Chinatown, which tells the story of Yuen Yee, who served as the last honorary mayor of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown. The film interweaves Yee's archives and excerpts from his memoir with his daughter Shirley’s contemporary commentary to show the rise, decline, and rediscovery of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown.
- Presentation of “Radical History of SF Chinatown,” an interactive digital tour developed by UC Berkeley Professor Lok Siu and her students with the Chinese Historical Society of America. Through conducting interviews with community leaders and visually documenting significant sites, they explore Chinatown as a cultural-political center.
- Moderated discussion with Dr. Lok Siu and Shirley Yee
Sunday, May 21, 11am
Sliding Scale $0-$22
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Lena Chen (b. 1987, San Francisco) is a Chinese American artist, writer, and scholar. Awarded Mozilla Foundation’s 2022 Creative Media Award and Best Emerging Talent at the 2019 B3 Biennial of the Moving Image, she is the director and producer of The Last Mayor of Chinatown. She earned a BA in sociology from Harvard University and a MFA from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, where her research examines race, sexual labor, and feminist performance. She is co-founder of JADED, Pittsburgh's first Asian American artist collective.