Commodifying Culture and Ethnicity: Chinese New Year Parade and the Chinatown Tourism Industry in New York City

By Larry Ling-hsuan Tung.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The face of America has changed dramatically in the last few decades. With the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, a large influx of immigrants from Asia and Latin America came into the United States. The increase in the number of immigrants from the Chinese-speaking world is particularly drastic as the quota for immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere was lifted. From the early integration pattern of assimilation to the growing popularity of multiculturalism in the 1990s, the American society has gone from a melting pot to a salad bar, where people can co-exist with their distinctive cultures and identities. In this paper, I argue that culture and ethnicity as a commodity can serve as a main economic booster for the ethnic enclaves as well as the entire city. I will use the Chinese New Year parade in Manhattan’s Chinatown as an example, and discuss the economic impact the 911 attacks have on its economy, and how important it is for the government as well as community-based organizations to work together to develop promotional campaigns to attract tourists. Also, the Chinatown community also needs to draw plans to reinvent itself by becoming more tourist-friendly but remain authentic at the same time.

Keywords: Ethnicity, Identity, Tourism

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp.11-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 638.729KB).

Larry Ling-hsuan Tung

Assistant Professor, Media & Film Program, Kean University, Union, NJ, USA

Professor Tung is currently an assistant professor at Kean University in Union, NJ. His areas of research and interest include images of minorities in the media, Asian and Asian-American cinemas, documentary production and journalism. He has written papers in those areas and presented them in academic conferences. At Kean, he teaches Mass Media, Video Production, and International Cinema. Before moving to the United States, Tung was a reporter for the English-language Taiwan News and had covered Taipei City Hall and the Taiwanese Legislature. He is also a contributor for, a Columbia Online Journalism Award-winning news website, and has been reporting on the Chinese community in New York City. One of his documentaries, Daughters From China, has been featured in several film festivals, including Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Asian American Film Festival of Dallas, and was aired on Speech TV. He also received the Best Documentary Award in the Honolulu International Festival IN 2005. Tung is also a faculty fellow of the National Association for Television Programming Executives 2007.


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