Jake Pehle

Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors


Geography and Geosciences

First Advisor

Meghan Cope


racialzation of space, Chinatowns, San Francisco, historical geography, discourse analysis


Since the 1990s, geographers have been increasingly interested in the intersections between the construction of space and the construction of racial categories, or the racialization of space. In particular, geographers have examined how the racialization of space and the racialization of groups are co-constructed. Chinatowns throughout the globe have been a focus of geographers who are interested in looking at these intersecting processes. Previous studies have examined the racialization of Chinatowns both across space and across time, ranging from 19th century Vancouver to contemporary Singapore. In this regard, the racialization of San Francisco’s Chinatown from 1860-1906 has been largely unexamined. Using archival methods and discourse analysis, this thesis examines the co-construction of Chinese as a racial category and Chinatown as a place in San Francisco from 1860-1906. From these analyses, the themes of disease and vice emerged as the most salient, after which an iterative cycle of racialization-spatialization was ultimately identified. This supports the assertion by previous scholars of the critical role of space and place in the construction of racial hierarchies and racial identities.