Caitlin Chong

Caitlin Chong (she/her)
Masters Student
Department of Sociology
University of British Columbia

Current Research Project:

Class Contours: A Digital Analysis of Vancouver’s Chinese-Canadian Communities on Instagram

Extending from my lived experience as a Han Chinese woman living on unceded šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmaɁɬ təməxʷ (Musqueam), S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō), Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories, my proposed project stems from a personal desire to pursue research which reconciles privilege and political responsibility. The city colonially known as “Vancouver” remains a historically important location to the migration of Chinese communities. My experiences living in this city have shown me how class and socioeconomic landscapes influence the political inclinations of Chinese communities. My MA thesis aims to illuminate a body of knowledge on Chinese-Canadian identities and communities through processes of digital content analysis, semi-structured interviews, and auto-ethnography. The construction of this knowledge will be undertaken using a critical anti-colonial framework which asks: (1) What do visual and textual presentations of the self on Instagram tell us about Vancouver’s Chinese-Canadian communities and their ethnic, racial, and class identities? (2) How do Chinese-Canadian ethnic and racial identities intersect with class? (3) How do ethnicity, race, and class shape these self-presentations online?

Apart from my personal research interests & Masters project, I am also conducting research with Dr. Amanda Cheong on a community-based participatory project with Vancouver Chinatown organization “Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice”. This ongoing project seeks to explore linguistic and cultural barriers that may impede Chinese seniors’ access to healthcare.

What motivated you to pursue this project?

In terms of my personal research, my political obligations motivate me in pursuing a critical observation of the Chinese communities within “Vancouver”. I know and value the Chinese communities living in this city, and I believe that critical reflections within these communities can only help to strengthen ties to each other and fellow communities.

Regarding my research project with Dr. Cheong and Yarrow Society, I know firsthand about the barriers faced by Chinese seniors in accessing healthcare. My grandmother and mother are first generation migrants from Hong Kong, and my mother does important work to aid my grandmother’s access to healthcare. I know other families are not as fortunate in having systems of support, or the ability to care for each other in this way. This research project looks to highlight these gaps in public-facing healthcare policy, and eventually help resolve those barriers to healthcare access for immigrant seniors.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted in your work?

Within my research alongside Dr. Cheong and Yarrow Society, we have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically influenced the way that immigrant seniors are able to access healthcare and other social services. We have pivoted our research to address these issues and are learning about the strategies undertaken by Yarrow Society and seniors themselves during this time.

Practically speaking, we have been conducting most of our research online. This has been a challenge regarding recruitment and engagement with the seniors we wish to speak with, as many do not have internet or even cellular access. We have been working with Yarrow Society to evaluate and rework our research in accordance with this.

What advice do you have for other graduate students?

I would advise fellow graduate students to remain open to opportunities that come your way, and pursue research that matters to you!




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