Cynthia Ling Lee

2018 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts
UC Santa Cruz

Project Title: Lost Chinatowns: a multimedia dance-theater work exploring Santa Cruz’s historical Chinatowns

Project Description

Lost Chinatowns will be a multimedia dance-theater work exploring the destruction, lost vibrancy, and historical erasure of Santa Cruz’s Chinatowns from 1860-1955.  Santa Cruz, now known for being the ultra-liberal “leftmost” city of the US, was once the center of virulently xenophobic anti-Chinese racism in California in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The work’s visuals and texts will draw upon oral histories of former Chinatown residents, as well as historical archives of photographs, 19th century anti-Chinese propaganda, and court transcripts of immigration cases.  Lost Chinatowns aims to make connections between the historical othering of Asian bodies and current xenophobic regimes in the era of Trump as an act of interracial solidarity between people of color.  Lost Chinatowns is being developed in part through Borders Resurfacing, a transnational creative exchange by the Post Natyam Collective.

A link to the project’s webpage: and