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Asian American Studies 197A
Winter Quarter 2002

Notes about Political Tours by Aimee Pham

Tourist Tours: These tours of ethnic enclaves tend to perpetuate stereotypes (e.g., former Grayline tours of Chinatown)

Community Tours: These tours, usually conducted by community groups, usually deal with history, landmarks, community leaders, and some community issues. However, these tours usually do not mention community problems such as labor exploitation (e.g., sweatshops) and community controversies.

Political Tours: These tours were once a regular part of Asian American Studies classes, and students were trained in conducting these types of tours by linking readings and research to actual community conditions. These tours focus on history and contemporary community issues, including economic conditions such as labor, education and social conditions, healthcare, family lives, race relations, community culture, gender relations, etc. Specifically, some topics of political tours are:

  • sweatshops and working conditions
  • housing problems: is housing adequate?
  • environmental factors including plants, electrical lines, contaminated water, etc.
  • immigrant lives including their daily lives, small businesses, services available to them, and language barriers etc.
  • community residents’ relationship to government authority
  • education including public schools in neighborhood and after-school programs
  • healthcare.
  • community organizations and services
  • grassroots issues.
  • safety/Crime Issues.
  • religions including churches and temples
  • geography, including it’s impact on jobs
  • corporate presence like big banks or supermarkets.
  • history from a political standpoint.
  • Race/Gender Relations.

Resource People for Political Tours

Leslie Ito – Chinatown/Little Tokyo

Glenn Omatsu – Little Tokyo

Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress – Little Tokyo

Peoples CORE – Pilipino Town

Erin O’Brien – Environmental Justice Resource and political tours of UCLA campus









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