Diana Yeh is Associate Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Arts and Social Sciences and Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Culture and the Creative Industries in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London.
She works on race and racisms, migration, cultural politics and activism, with a special interest in the lived experiences, cultural practices and political mobilisations of British Chinese and, more recently, East and Southeast Asian communities more broadly.
As well as this project, she is Principal Investigator of the project, ‘Becoming East and Southeast Asian: Race, Ethnicity and Youth Politics of Belonging’, with Tamsin Barber, funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust.
Diana is author of The Happy Hsiungs: Performing China and the Struggle for Modernity (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2014) and co-editor of Contesting British Chinese Culture (2018). Recent articles and editorials include: ‘Becoming “British East Asian and Southeast Asian”: Anti-racism, Chineseness, and Political Love in the Creative and Cultural Industries’; ‘#BLM and the city’ with Jenny Mbaye; and ‘COVID-19, Anti-Asian Racial Violence and The Borders of Chineseness’.
She sometimes tweets at @dianayeh and she has a personal website here which she rarely has time to update.
The COVID-19 pandemic brings a moment for radical thinking and change.
While the anti-Asian racial violence it has sparked has traumatised our communities, it has also galvanised a new racialised and anti-racist consciousness among E/SEA communities in the UK.
We create this space to bear witness to this historic moment of ESEA organising and to hold space for critical reflection and discussion.
Our starting point is that we must connect anti-Asian racial violence in the time of Covid-19 to longstanding and ongoing forms of structural and systemic racisms experienced by ESEA communities in the UK and elsewhere.
We must also connect it to the racial violence experienced daily by Black, South Asian, Muslim and other communities and contextualise it within long histories of the violence of colonialism and the enslavement of Africans.
We need to reject our positioning as a model minority and the racial and ethnic hierarchies it supports within and beyond ESEA communities.
We advocate for a post/(de)colonial, feminist and intersectional approach that simultaneously challenges all forms of oppression within and beyond ESEA communities.
We wish to activate activism, and begin archiving a history of activism. ESEA communities have little visible shared history of activism.
We want to empower our communities to understand racial violence against ourselves and others, to pave the way for new expansive solidarities.
Angeli Patricia Romero
Angeli Patricia Romero is a Filipino immigrant in the United Kingdom. In 2015, she earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law and was admitted to the Philippine Bar soon after. She has worked in the private sector with a top Philippine law firm and in the Philippine House of Representatives as deputy chief-of-staff of a legislator.
In 2020, she completed her Masters of Law in Human Rights with distinction from Queen Mary University of London, where she focused extensively on refugee and migration law, socio-economic rights, and children’s rights. Her special interest lies in human trafficking, irregular migration and modern slavery.
Apart from this project, she is currently working as a Research Officer at Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), a research and policy organisation with a vision of a world free from all forms of labour exploitation. She is also an External Contributor to the human trafficking SHERLOC database of the UNODC and a Philippine Law Consultant for Hear Their Cries, an organisation fighting child rape and sexual abuse in the aid industry.
Angeli is delighted to be working with Dr Diana Yeh on an extremely relevant and ground-breaking project. She is thankful to have this opportunity to meet and work with many wonderful and brilliant East and Southeast Asians in the UK.
About This Project
Responding to COVID-19 Anti-Asian Racial Violence through Community Care, Solidarity and Resistance
This project responds to the racial violence – physical, psychological, symbolic and structural – against East and Southeast Asians (ESEAs) due to the racialisation of Covid-19 as ‘Chinese’. The UK has seen unprecedented levels of anti-Asian racial violence in 2020 and 2021, but despite some media reports and widespread evidence on the ground, this remains largely overlooked in current political discussions.
Yet the experience of COVID-19-related racial violence has also galvanised a new racialised and anti-racist consciousness among UK E/SEA communities. This project examines the impact of the COVID-19-related racial violence on E/SEAs and explores community responses, including new activist efforts, to it.
The project asks:
1. What is the experience of COVID-related racial violence for ESEA communities in the UK?
2. How have ESEA communities responded to this racial violence? What role can communities play?
3. How can ESEAs work with other racial minorities to achieve racial justice for all?
ESEA Hub Launch
On 24 September 2021, we launched the ESEA Online Community Hub! Thank you to everyone who attended our online event and sharing their thoughts and time with us.
During the launch, we heard from the web development team, Ghost and John, about their design process and journey. We also heard from Asia Art Activism, Breakwater, Remember & Resist, Moongate Productions, Southeast and East Asian Centre and End the Virus of Racism about the important work they’ve been doing in response to COVID-19 racisms and the projects lined up in partnership with us. More about these projects here.
More than anything, this hub intends to benefit ESEA communities and individuals by holding space to bear witness to and document our lived experiences of racism and to empower ourselves through the sharing of diverse strategies of care, solidarity and resistance. We hope to build a sense of community, collective history and anti-racist activism.
ESEA Hub A Year On: Looking Back and Moving Forward
A year on from our launch, we are hosted an event with artists, academics, community organisers and activists, who spoke about their reflections on the past year, their projects and collaborations with us.
We showcased some of ESEA Hub’s commissions of creative responses to COVID-related racism and hear from the artist-creators themselves on how they see ESEA communities moving forward now, two years after the outbreak of COVID-19.
This event was held on 30 September, 2022 in City, University of London as an initial step in introducing ESEA Heritage Month into universities as a recognition of ESEA communities in the UK. ESEA Hub aims to bring ESEA awareness to the broader academic community, students and colleagues.
Website by Ghost & John
Ghost and John were invited by Diana and Angeli to imagine and develop this online space, and design and illustrate this website to be a safe and comfortable environment. They have led a workshop with other ESEA community members, employing future thinking tools open-sourced by Future Today Institute to develop digital strategy. This website is under continuous development to further serve the community.
Ghost and John continue to work with ESEA Hub as workshop and roundtable discussion facilitators, event organisers, and administrators. They are proud to be part of this team where we aim at building a stronger ESEA community together.
Ghost and John are a Hong Kong multidisciplinary art duo who are best known for their innovative integration of performance and contemporary technologies; and collaborative approach to making socio-politically pertinent artworks. Drawing from their experiences of working in biology and computer science, they have developed a dynamic artistic practice that examines the intricacies of the body and nature, technological advances and folklore that accompany history. Their works have been presented internationally across London, Hong Kong, Vienna and more.