Bitter Orientals: Yellow Peril Unmasked is a symposium based in Vancouver’s Chinatown that will explore themes of anti-Asian racism, diaspora, xenophobia, intersectional and intercultural identity, as well as ancestral knowledge. The symposium features a series of educational workshops and panels, as well as art exhibition, and intergenerational and intercultural sharing that meditate on themes of Chinatowns and labour organizing, archiving and memory, diaspora, spaces and places, queerness, and cultural belonging.
The past 18 months have brought to the surface, already existing “yellow peril” narratives remerging again during the pandemic. We’ve seen Chinatowns and elders targeted by racial violence and vandalism. We’ve seen a rise of “Boba Liberal” organizing around #StopAsianHate demands for “hate crime legislation”, which is pro-police, pro-surveillance, that harms Black and Indigenous communities. We’ve seen gentrification eating away the souls of Chinatowns and other BIPOC communities seemingly with no end in sight. We are bitter… bitter orientals indeed.
How do we organize against (anti-Asian) xenophobia, and the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous systems that produce it? How do we talk about anti-Asian violence while talking about abolition? How do we understand ourselves better by honouring the past while collectively building a just future?
We are here to challenge and delight your senses, to enjoy and explore new tastes and ideas, while ringing in the Lunar New Year… all around the Hot Pot table! Join us starting on Feb 9th, 2022 as we ring in the year of the Atmospheric Water Tiger.
This series takes place on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. This project also emerges from collaborations in Chinatown, historically a neighbourhood of Chinese railroad labourers who were brought to settle Indigenous territories as a part of the ongoing colonial project.
Thank you to Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, BC Multiculturalism, BC Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver for supporting this series.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
HOT POT TALKS: BITTER ORIENTALS (Panel Series)
Feb 9, 2022 | “We Can’t Talk About Anti-Asian Violence Without Talking About Abolition of Police and Prisons”
Guest: Angela MacDougall, Executive Director of Battered Women’s Support Services
Livestream Registration: https://fb.me/e/26fFYnwza
Through her community-based organizing, frontline work and activism over three decades, Angela Marie MacDougall has been deeply involved in movements for social justice. She is a founding member of Feminists Deliver, a provincial organization dedicated to shedding a light on the urgent issues facing marginalized communities in British Columbia. She is also a founding member of Intersectional Feminist Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative bringing together researchers, academics, data and policy analysts, students, and community organizers to provide critical research, data, policy, and strategic support for ending violence, gender equity, and social justice movements.
Grounded solidarity organizing, grassroots activism, and frontline service delivery, Angela is committed to taking action on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. She is a long-standing member of Vancouver’s February 14th Women’s Memorial March, the first women’s memorial march held since 1992 in response to the murder of a woman in the Vancouver neighbourhood named the Downtown Eastside. Angela is the executive director of BWSS Battered Women’s Support Services.
Feb 16, 2022 | “Chinatown Futures”
Guests: Laiwan x Kimberley Wong
Livestream Registration: https://fb.me/e/35GbLnyrf
What is the future of “Chinatowns”? While the history of racial enclaves is embedded in histories of xenophobia and racism, Chinatowns – as a theme and as a space – have become a nexus of social tension, and simultaneously an intersection of community organizing on intergenerational issues of social justice. In this panel, we explore these imbricated themes of a mutating yellow peril xenophobia, cultural capital, gentrification, displacement, neoliberalism/boba liberalism, exploring what “Chinatown” might hold in our imagining of futures.
Kimberley Wong | 黄壯慈 (she/they) is a queer Cantonese femme whose work mirrors the intersections of her identity. Kimberley is the Race and Equity Program Manager with hua foundation and served from 2019-2021 as Co-Chair of the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group.
LAIWAN is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator with a wide-ranging practice based in poetics and philosophy. Born in Zimbabwe of Chinese parents, her family immigrated to Canada in 1977 to leave the war in Rhodesia. Her art training began at the Emily Carr College of Art & Design (1983), and she returned to academia to receive an MFA from Simon Fraser University School for Contemporary Arts (1999). Recipient of numerous awards, including the 2021 Emily Award from Emily Carr University, recent Canada Council and BC Arts Council Awards, and the 2008 Vancouver Queer Media Artist Award, Laiwan has served on numerous arts juries, exhibits regularly, curates projects in Canada, the US, and Zimbabwe, is published in anthologies and journals, and is a cultural activist.
Feb 18, 2022 | “Intersections of Anti-Asian racism and the Abolition Movement”
Guest: Tonye Aganaba
Livestream Registration: https://fb.me/e/26XiX3yQN
Tonye Aganaba is a queer and non-binary multidisciplinary artist, musician, and facilitator living on the unceded ancestral territories of the Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. They proudly trace their roots to the lands of the Ijaw and Shona speaking peoples colonially known today as Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Tonye’s music, shows and workshops are connected, soulful, and intimate experiences, soaked in a fresh kind of vulnerability that we all hunger for.
When Tonye is not on stage or in the studio you can find them at Ethos Lab co-creating a vibrant community and facilitating arts-based learning and leadership programs for youth, or organizing with the Defund 604 Network in pursuit of the abolition of police, prisons and the end of state violence and repression.
Mar 2, 2022 | “Decolonizing Storytelling: Indigeneity, Filmmaking and Motherhood”
Guest: Jules Koostachin
Dr. Jules Arita Koostachin is a member of the Directors Guild of Canada and an award winning filmmaker who successfully completed her PhD with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. Her research MooNaHaTihKaaSiWew: Unearthing Spirit was focused on Indigenous documentary and positionality (relationship to stories). Since the beginning of time, the people of the MoshKeKo have shared stories from generation to generation. InNiNeWak (Cree) storytelling is a method used to inform about our cultural beliefs, values, protocols, ceremonial life, and our relationships. Our storytelling practices are also a strategic means to actively protect our theirstories, and has allowed for the intricacy of our daily lives to be respectfully represented.
Through Jules’ arts practice, she involves the use of film, photography, documentary, creative writing and installation. Her practice is deeply influenced by her Ancestral ties to the MoshKeKo AsKi. InNiNiNeWak teachings in the form of story, is an integral way to ensure our Ancestors voices are remembered and heard for generations to come.
Mar 5, 2022 | “Inscrutable Orientals Asian Diasporic Intimacies: Intersections of Cultural Identity”
Guests: Dr. John Paul Catungal x Umang Antariksh Sagar
JP Catungal is Assistant Professor in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and Interim Director of the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program at the University of British Columbia. He is a queer, first-generation Filipinx Canadian settler whose research, teaching and public facing work generally concern the community organizing and cultural production practices of migrant, racialized and LGBTQ+ communities especially in the fields of sexual health, education and social services. He approaches his work indebted to and in conversation with Filipinx and Asian diaspora studies and feminist, queer and trans of colour theorizing.
Umang Antariksh Sagar is a queer gender expansive creator on a journey of practicing embodied loving possibilities. They are a film producer and podcaster, interested in how QTBIPOCs channel their magic to create new worlds. They are the creator and host of Possibilities Podcast, currently in development on a couple TV projects and the lead facilitator of POV Film’s en/Vision Lab.
Mar 10, 2022 | “Restaurant Babies: Journeys of Diasporic Food Culture”
Guest: Jane Wong
Jane Wong was raised in a Chinese American take-out restaurant. She is the author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (Alice James, 2021) and Overpour (Action Books, 2016). Her memoir Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City is forthcoming from Tin House in 2023. She is an Associate Professor at Western Washington University where she teaches poetry and Asian American literature.
Mar 13, 2022 | “Chinatown & DIY Spaces”
Guest: Nancy Lee
Nancy Lee 李南屏 is a Taiwanese-Canadian interdisciplinary media artist, curator, filmmaker, DJ and cultural producer. Their work stimulates and enlivens space, making a provocative statement about how inescapably interconnected we are with our surroundings. This notion of staging is a constant in Nancy’s work and underpins their projects, from their early work as a more traditional filmmaker, through their conception and planning of live events, and into the realms of XR, new media performance and installation, where their art practices continue to coalesce and evolve.
Nancy is a co-producer and co-founder of CURRENT: Feminist Electronic Art Symposium, an intersectional and multidisciplinary initiative featuring artistic and educational programming for and by women, nonbinary artists and artists of colour. In 2019, CURRENT evolved into a 3-day mentorship program offering emerging cultural producers local internship opportunities. As a community music consultant, Nancy has worked with CreativeBC as a grant coach, and outreach facilitator to improve the accessibility of their funding programs. They were also involved in Vancouver Music Strategy as a facilitator advocating for the DIY music community, and have since developed two pilot programs with the City of Vancouver which provided entrepreneurial capacity building workshops and micro-grants for equity-deserving artists. Nancy is currently a WebVR workshop facilitator with the Indigenous Matriarch 4 Lab at Emily Carr University and the board president of Love Intersections, a media arts collective made up of queer artists of colour dedicated to using collaborative art making and relational storytelling to address systemic racism. In 2018, they were nominated for a YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Art, Cultural & Design.
BITTER ORIENTALS: FILM SERIES
Mar 15 2022 | “Film Screening: Chinatown Cares”
Guests: Members from Yarrow Intergenerational Society, Chinatown Today, and Hua Foundation
A short film screening and panel discussion on COVID-19 community solidarity in Chinatowns, the importance of culturally appropriate mutual aid, and decolonization.
Mar 15, 2022 | “Film Screening: Inheritance”
Guest: Kendell Yan
A short film screening and panel discussion on navigating intersectional queer, trans-feminine, Asian drag identity. The panel will explore queer East Asian identity in Vancouver and how it encounters the recent formation of Anti-Asian racism.
Mar 16, 2022 | “Film Screening: Tongues Anthology”
Guest: Kai Cheng Thom
A short film screening and panel discussion on navigating the loss of ancestral tongues, and the legacy of colonialism on diasporic communities. The film traces a history of a language that was once dominant in the Chinese diaspora in most of North America, but has since been neglected to the point of extinction. The panel discussion and film will explore the role of language, and how cultural practices that are linked to embodied notions like language are critical for diasporic communities – and in particular Asian communities.
BITTER ORIENTALS: CHINATOWN FUTURES
Mar 19, 2022 / 1pm – 3pm PST | “If These Walls Could Speak” – Panel and historical tour of Lim Sai Hor Kow Mock Association building
Guests: Orville Lim, Cheuk Lim, Peggy Lim, Laura Lim, and Hong Lum Lim
Address: 525 Carrall St. Third Floor
Elders from the Lim Sai Hor Kow Mock Association will join Love Intersections founders, David Ng and Jen Sungshine to talk about their multi-year collaboration, highlighting stories in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The panel discussion will include themes of diaspora, cultural identity, the future of Chinatowns, and the implications of this project in light of the spike in COVID-19 related anti-Asian racism.
Mar 20 – 22, 2022 / 10am – 3pm | “If These Walls Could Speak” – Exhibition and Workshop
Hosted by Love Intersections Society and the Lim Sai Hor Kow Mock Association
Address: 525 Carrall St. Third Floor
For the finale of “Bitter Orientals: Yellow Peril Unmasked”, we will invite audiences to come to witness oral histories that have been recorded by Love Intersections. These videos will be installed at the Lim Sai Hor Kow Mock Association, and audiences will have the opportunity to visit the historic building and learn from the videos, and the elders.