What happened to Providence’s Chinatown? In this week’s episode we talk to Angela Yuanyuan Feng and Julieanne Fontana, two Master’s Students in Public Humanities at Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage who have created an exhibit and walking tour in downtown Providence to consider this question. Angela and Julieanne discuss their work with community partners, scholars, and archivists to recover this history, and they talk about the various circumstances that led to the creation of Providence’s Chinatown and its decline. Then we’re joined by Diane O’Donoghue, Director of the Program for Public Humanities at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, to learn more about how Diane’s work on Boston’s Chinatown and its public library influenced the project on Providence’s Chinatown.
Angela Yuanyuan Feng is a third-year student in the American Studies PhD program at Brown University with a specialization in Asian American Studies: she is also working towards her certificate in Public Humanities. Her research interests include Asian American community, politics and culture, Asian American literature, and Chinese Diaspora in the Americas.
Julieanne Fontana is a second-year student in the Public Humanities Master’s program at Brown University with a focus on place-based community histories. She has background as a researcher, curator, educator, and project manager with the National Park Service and history museums.
Diane O’Donoghue is the director of the Program for Public Humanities and Senior Fellow for the Humanities at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. An art historian, her areas of specialization include the visual culture of early China, about which she authored a monograph on reflection as object and idea in the Bronze Age. From these art historical and archaeological interests came scholarship on issues of the representation of surface and depth, and memory and memorialization, work informed by visual and cultural studies, gender and postcolonial critiques, and the practice and theories of psychoanalysis. “These Words,” an exhibition project created in 2016 with the Chinese Historical Society of New England, circled back to research with Chinese archival sources in the service of both public history and advocacy. In the spring semester 2017, she was adjunct professor of Public Humanities at the John Nicholas Brown Center of Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University.
The music on this episode is excerpted from the song “New Day” by Lee Rosevere (licensed via Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International).