Laureen D. Hom

Community-Engaged Scholar, Educator, and Applied Researcher

About Me

I am an interdisciplinary scholar and educator at the intersection of Urban Studies, Ethnic Studies, Public Administration, and Public Policy. My research examines spatial politics, racialization, gentrification, (im)mobilities, and community formations in urban neighborhoods, with a particular emphasis in Asian Americans and immigrant communities in California. My scholarship centers the importance of place in politicizing and building a sense of belonging for racialized and marginalized groups. I am interested in the meanings of community power as local groups organize for their neighborhoods; how that power is articulated to the state and those outside of the community; and the implications of this power in addressing social inequities - both within and beyond their communities - and envisioning possibilities for just cities. Through my research, I aim to uplift the lived experiences of non-elites so that they are a part of knowledge production and decision-making in both academia and public policy.

Currently, I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at San José State University. Along with my academic career, I have professional experience in policy advocacy, program management, and evaluation of health and social service services for unhoused and immigrant communities. I also am a board member for the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California and a member of the Los Angeles Chinatown Community Land Trust. My practical experiences and civic engagement, as well as my identity as a Chinese American woman whose family migration history in and out of California can be traced back to the early 20th Century, are integral to shaping who I am as a scholar, educator, and researcher.

New Book!

The Power of Chinatown: 

Searching for Spatial Justice in Los Angeles

The Power of Chinatown: Searching for Spatial Justice in Los Angeles is the culmination of my research on Los Angeles Chinatown that examines community politics and gentrification since the 1970s. The book includes over 4 years of intensive fieldwork in the 2010s, including interviews with over 50 community leaders and activists across generations, participant-observations in the neighborhood, and archival research spanning over 80 years of Chinatown's history.

Los Angeles Chinatown continues to be an important site for community and political belonging for Chinese and Asian Americans across the region. Yet, Chinatown is more than just a symbolic and historic neighborhood. The threats of gentrification and forced displacement are also (re)structuring the material and social conditions of the neighborhood. As Chinatown continues to be a dynamic neighborhood that is a home for generations of working-class immigrants, the political engagement and activism of Chinese and Asian Americans who converge in Chinatown raise important questions as to how they not only raise the political visibility of Chinese and Asian Americans, but also specifically respond to the material conditions of the neighborhood to support the most economically and socially vulnerable within the community. 

In The Power of Chinatown, I interrogate how community leaders are responding to urban pressures that shape neighborhood development and what that means for creating community, political belonging, and a just future for Chinatown and beyond.

Follow @power_lachinatown on Instagram for updates and visit the UC Press Website for purchasing options!

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