Commodifying culture and ethnicity: Chinese New Year parade and the Chinatown tourism industry in New York city

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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. © Common Ground.

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International Journal of the Humanities

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