Gregor Benton is one of the foremost scholars of China in the world. "Chinatowns" is a highly readable, and sweeping book on this global phenomenon, including a photo essay of historical snapshots of Chinatowns across the globe. The Chinese diaspora, which started a couple of centuries ago, produced Chinatowns from the US to Britain to Europe to Southeast Asia to Australia. Exploring how each Chinatown is different, Benton explains how a unique culture developed and outlines their basic cultural, social, and political features. He highlights the unique features of the different Chinatowns surveyed. For instance, in Paris, there is a Chinatown populated primarily by Chinese who are the descendants of Chinese migrants to Southeast Asia (a former French colony). In the United States, the cloistered nature of Chinatowns stemmed from institutionalized racism. And in Australia, weaker taboos against interracial sex led to more open enclaves. Everywhere, though, Chinatowns have been stereotyped as places of exoticism and corruption, and to this day are frequently viewed through an Orientalist gaze.
In this truly unique book, Gregor Benton applies his vast knowledge to cover all of these features.