Dr. Sookhee Oh Receives National Science Foundation Grant

Dr. Sookhee Oh is currently conducting a research project on two largest Asian ethnic enclaves in Los Angeles, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) in collaboration with Dr. Angie Y. Chung, a Sociology professor from the University at Albany (SUNY Albany) and Dr. Jan Lin, a Sociology professor from Occidental College.

The purpose of the study is to explore how immigrant elites and developers have integrated themselves into the political and global processes of urban (re)development. The research team is interested in understanding how immigrant elites (e.g. entrepreneurs, land developers, global investors, and economic development organizations) have worked to promote and negotiate their development agenda in the local governments and civic institutions amidst suburbanization, political barriers, and economic recessions. More specifically, the research team is identifying the main characteristics of immigrant growth machines, how they operate within the constraints of local political opportunity structures, and the resulting impact on social relations and the spatial landscape in Koreatown and Monterey Park, Los Angeles.

The research team conducts field observations and open-ended, in-person interviews with approximately 120 major players for and against (re)development, including transnational agents, place-based elite, public and quasi-public authorities, community-based organizations, and residents/ activists. The study also relies on a statistical and spatial analysis of census data and other secondary courses, which will explain the nature of enclave growth, the characteristics of residents and businesses that reflect political power/ representation, and the demographic basis for potential neighborhood conflicts.

The findings from the study are expected to advance our knowledge of the new immigrant elites and transnational players who are driving the processes of urban (re)development and the resulting political changes in the local regime where the (white) American urban growth machine has declined as a dominant presence. The research team will understand better how local political opportunity structures interact with the global context of transnational and immigrant investment flows in Los Angeles and reveal the advantages and disadvantages the immigrant elite face in pushing forth their growth agenda within the local political opportunity structures of a racially-diverse metropolis.

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