An Ambiguous Language of Our Own: Self-Representation through Visual Cues at Public Places of Asian Community in Atlanta

Ms Haipeng Zhou
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As a minority group in America, the Asian community may lack voice in mainstream culture, but they can let their voice be heard by the outside world through visual cues at public places of their own community. However, the visual language can be ambiguous since people with different background may have their own interpretations. This study presents some examples of the language of Asian visual cues in Atlanta, as an attempt to make the ambiguous language clearer to both Asians themselves and other ethnicities. The examples include typical identity or culture markers and several individual cases from various public places, such as Asian restaurants, supermarkets, bookstores, Chinese schools and Chinese Square management offices. Pictures were taken from these places as samples for analysis, and interviews were carried out with several business owners to investigate the meanings of their intended visual self-representation. Through these examples, Asians' various ways of self-representation and different notions of identities were discussed, resulting in a distinct variety of Asian American cultures, recently established in the Southern city, Atlanta.

Keywords: Visual Cues, Self-representation, Public Places, Asians, Asian Americans, Culture/Identity Markers, Asian Community in Atlanta
Stream: Identity, Belonging
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Ambiguous Language of Our Own, An

Ms Haipeng Zhou

Ph.D. Student, Institute of Liberal Arts, Emory University

Haipeng Zhou is a Ph.D. student in the Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University, majoring in American Studies. Her research interest is comparative cultural studies. She is especially interested in Asian representations in the US and representations of the US in Asia. Haipeng Zhou's interest in comparative cultural studies started from her undergraduate study at Beijing University of Science and Technology in China, where she majored in English with Science Orientation. During her M.A. study in British and American Literature at Beijing Foreign Studies University, she acquired an additional method to discover cultural differences, that was, through literature in different languages. For the subsequent three and a half years, she worked at Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press as an editor and copyright coordinator. This work provided her opportunities to do real research in comparative cultural studies through routine communications with American authors and copyright agents. The work and research experience also made her realize the necessity for further extensive study and theoretical improvement. With this aim in mind, in 2003, she came to the US and started her Ph.D. study in the Department of Communications at Georgia State University. In order to concentrate more on comparative cultural studies, a year later, she transferred to Emory University's American Studies program, where she remains today. Haipeng Zhou's research has started to borne some fruit. She presented her research paper at Global Fusion 2004 Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, and her paper on the coverage of the 1967 Riots in Hong Kong by the British newspaper - The Times, won the first prize. It will appear on the spring issue of Global Media Journal this year.

Ref: D05P0311