Chinatown Invisible: Hybrid-Mapping and Making-Do

8 February, 3-5 pm. Room 1.01A, University Theatre (Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16-18)

Lecture by Liska Chan (University of Oregon) in ASCA Cities Seminar on Repairing Infrastructures

As a part of a larger conversation about landscape representation, this talk introduces and analyzes the hybrid-mapping I conducted in a creative research project about Manhattan’s Chinatown, entitled Chinatown Invisible. Hybrid-mapping is a type of image-making I have developed to interrogate the combined socio-cultural and biophysical legacies of a constantly changing landscape and expressly to facilitate a focused interpretation of the everyday lives of urban dwellers. In Chinatown Invisible I begin to interrogate a quotidian practice I call ‘making-do’, which I define as the act of using ordinary, readily available, and inexpensive materials to repair or adapt existing physical structures to suit the needs of immigrant occupants of urban neighborhoods. Capturing and understanding ‘making-do’, as I have defined it, is important because it is a practice that sheds light on the ways first-generation immigrant cultures informally claim space in new urban territories, and how those cultures shape the ongoing physical evolution of neighborhoods like Chinatown. At this time, when more people than ever are migrating, it is important to understand how immigrants shape their new landscapes, as well as how those landscapes shape immigrant cultures over time.

Liska Chan is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Design at the University of Oregon. Her creative work, scholarship, and teaching pursue three intertwined lines of practice and thinking. The first is landscape palimpsests and involves research into historical patterns of human settlement and infrastructure that have left both social and physical legacies in contemporary landscapes. The second is landscape perception and the deep influences common perceptions and ideals have on how we build places. The third is a pursuit of new mapping methods combining both measurable and indeterminate aspects of landscape. Her creative practice and teaching reference phenomenology, visual studies, and perception theory while being grounded in techniques of drawing, art, and spatial design.

Preparatory reading for the seminar:
– Bustamente, Cesar Torres, “Crisis in Landscape Representation.” Kerb Journal of Landscape Architecture 17.1 (2009): 53-60.
– Boym, Svetlana. “On diasporic intimacy: Ilya Kabakov’s installations and immigrant homes.” Critical Inquiry 24.2 (1998): 498-524.
The readings are available via:

Please also note that the talk by Asher Boersma (University of Siegen), “The Challenge of Scaling: How Infrastructure is Lived” will take place on Thurs. 14 March, 3-5pm, in room 1.05, P.C. Hoofthuis (Spuistraat 134), 3-5pm. Our full second semester programme can be found at, and for other upcoming events/announcements, see the list below.