The texts of “Introduction” by Edawrd Said and “Public Health and the Mapping of Chinatown” by Nyan Shah bring forth the volatile relationship seen between the Asian and Western cultures. Both texts present the Western culture as having an overbearing ideology that rejects and steps on anything that it does not support while exaggerating on the desirable aspects. The author Said writes about exotic locations and sexual longings that the European men capitalize on. The Asian culture receives many hard blows for being different and has many slanderous remarks to fight against. Shah mentions the reporters of 19th century San Francisco wrote of Chinese immigrants living in cramped, disease-filled tenements as if it was something the immigrants had wanted to live in.
Edward Said’s piece is about “Orientalism”, which is the Western ideals of European countries defining the aspects that make up the Asian countries. Said paints an image of European men who measure every aspect of the lives of Asians by the yardstick of their own Western ideas. It is irritating to know that other cultures were being measured to the standards of another culture as if it was superior in any way. The only comfort that can come of this realisation is that in the future people do learn to make the effort to see the beliefs of many on their own terms and ways. I would like to question about the section in the text of politics influencing academic knowledge and its writers. Since many researchers would have wanted support for their work from whatever government group had money to bring out, could the words in these studies be fully trusted if there is a possibility of flattery?
Nyan Shah engages the reader with the loud arguements of San Francisco’s white population protesting against the Chinatowns and the dangers these places could have. Shah points out that “escalating anti-Chinese politics and the spector of epidemic disease” (171) had a hand in driving the public to hurt the immigrants living there. The implication of racism in these reasons show how American history keeps repeating itself many times over on who could be trusted. The Irish and African-Americans had been two other groups who faced persecution based on what others thought of their cultures and physical features. The image of being a group of dirty, diseased people is nothing new for all persecuted groups, but how can it end? Would education in all necessary areas be the only defense against the ignorance and hate that continues throughout the ages?