East of East: The global cosmopolitans of suburban LA

Spring 2015. Article published in Boom: A Journal of California.

While Los Angeles’s San Gabriel Valley is best known for being the “first suburban Chinatown,” it is actually a lively, multiethnic, and multiracial community with a complex past, and an emerging arts scene that celebrates that complexity. Today, the “SGV” constitutes the largest, majority-Asian American and Latino community in the United States. Its social and cultural mix make it a vibrant example of suburban cosmopolitanism, in which diverse residents live in relative harmony, with mutual respect for difference. Local groups such as the South El Monte Arts Posse have begun to make work that reflects this ethos, and could reshape normative ideas of what it means to be American.

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