header image

Mar 4 – Nostalgia in the Making of Urban Form: What Can Vancouver Learn from Cities across the Pacific?

Why is it that every time a traditional gate (pailou) is built at the entrance of a North American or Southeast Asian “Chinatown,” it simultaneously signals the decline and hopes for the revitalization of a deteriorating community? The “gatification” of Chinatowns all around the world has marked a broad trend of place-making through symbolic acts of urban design. But as Vancouver reconsiders the heritage value of its historic neighbourhoods, and engages with more recent trends that explicitly invoke nostalgia in the process of place-making, what can we learn from cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Honolulu? How are cities such as Malacca, and Penang conserving, rebuilding and revitalizing historic areas in imaginative and collaborative ways that bring together governmental and non-governmental partners? How do we balance expertise, state power, and the politics of affect and nostalgia?

Event Details

The Next Urban Planet: Rethinking of the City in Time (NEW SERIES)
Nostalgia in the Making of Urban Form: What Can Vancouver Learn from Cities across the Pacific?
Henry Yu, History, UBC
Coach House, Green College, UBC
March 04 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm


Biographical Sketch


Dr. Henry Yu is an Associate Professor of History, and the Principal of St. John’s College, UBC. He was the Project Lead for the $1.17 million “Chinese Canadian Stories” public history and education project (2010-2012). Currently, Yu and his research team are completing a project on Chinese and First Nations heritage sites along the Fraser River corridor, and he serves as the Co-Chair for the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council for the Province of British Columbia overseeing legacy projects following its historic apology in May 2014 for BC’s history of anti-Chinese legislation. Between 2009-2012, he was the Co-Chair of the City of Vancouver’s project, “Dialogues between First Nations, Urban Aboriginal, and Immigrant Communities” (http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/socialplanning/dialoguesproject) and in 2012 received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his community service and leadership.



“The Next Urban Planet: Rethinking the City in Time” Speaker series sponsored by Green College on contemporary urbanization and urbanism.
Over half the world’s population now lives in cities and ebullient urbanists envision a future of growth, opportunity and prosperity based on the development potential of cities. However, urbanization carries with it trenchant ecological and social challenges, not least of which are the dire implications of an ever-expanding impress of the urban “ecological footprint” upon earth’s degraded environment, and the troubling growth of social inequality, disparities and marginality among the world’s urban dwellers. These issues are prevalent even among the most reputedly successful cities in advanced societies, such as London, Amsterdam, Singapore and (within the “Cascadia” bioregion) Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. The opening presentations in this new, three-year interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral consultation based at Green College will offer instructive examples and case studies related to Vancouver, ranked among the world’s most “livable” cities. But livable for whom, and for how much longer? On closer inspection, the optimistic narrative of “Vancouverism” turns out to be deeply fissured. Please join us for this and other talks in the series!

Post Comment


a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia