top of page

Hongyan Yang, Ph.D.

Image by Matt Popovich

I am an interdisciplinary activist-scholar who centers the built environment in the research, teaching, and empowerment of marginalized communities in the United States. Broadly, my research explores the intersection of race, ethnicity, and space, and asks how Asian immigrants' identities and culinary practices shaped and were shaped by the spaces they designed and inhabited. My work is guided not only by historical methods but also by my engagement with local communities through field documentation, oral history, and preservation efforts. 

Currently, I am a Core Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor of History, (Digital) Humanities, Comparative Migration and Ethnic Studies at Boston College, where I am working on my first book Landscapes of Resistance: Chinese Placemaking through Foodways. The book argues that Chinese immigrants engaged in spatial practices around food preparation, service, and consumption to negotiate their power and identities during the Exclusion Era and early postwar years. I use the term “placemaking” to underline the practices that were often ephemeral, discrete, and sometimes intangible, but nevertheless allowed Chinese immigrants to resist racial and cultural dominance in tactical ways.

I received my Ph.D. in Architecture in the Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Program from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. My research has received support with fellowships and grants from the Oral History Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Vernacular Architecture Forum, and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. I am also the recipient of the Sophie Coe Prize Honorable Mention in 2017, the Vernacular Architecture Forum Ambassadors Award in 2015, and the American Pacific Coast Geographers Committee Award for Excellence in Area Studies in 2012.

Chinatown, like the phoenix, rose from the ashes with a new facade, dreamed up by an American-born Chinese man, built by white architects, looking like a stage-set China that does not exist. 

                                                   Philip Choy

bottom of page