Macquarie University
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Decoding "Chinatowns" in Sydney: a comparative study of how Chinese characters are represented to create space

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posted on 2024-02-23, 03:09 authored by Jiayang Hu

Chinese characters have played an increasingly significant role in structuring the landscape that emerges from Sydney’s urban spaces. Recent studies have covered the indexicality and visual design of Chinese characters which are contextualized in the urban habitat including tourist destinations such as Chinatown (Lou, 2016; Song et al., 2022; Jiang et al., 2022). However, the connection between Chinese characters and everyday urban space, especially in areas where the linguistic landscape (LL) of Chinese characters is thriving, deserves unpacking, because LL is a highly visible constituent in such space. Chinese characters are deployed as a distinct meaning-making system in the production of space where social relations are concretized and crystallized. From the high streets of Burwood and Campsie, this study collects LLs of Chinese characters and investigates the meaning-making processes of these Chinese characters, with the co-deployed semiosis, focussing on how space is constructed. This study finds that Chinese characters from Burwood are marked by compact layers of representations within a proactive and assertive pattern of interaction. By contrast, Chinese characters from Campsie are inclined to functional representations through a reactive and spontaneous pattern. This difference, as to the city development plans of both suburbs, indicates an urban trend in favour of a regulated and highly dynamic social hybridization as opposed to a marginalized community-oriented social network. This study provides a new way of interpreting space making through the practice of meaning making by Chinese characters in urban life.


Table of Contents

1 Introduction -- 2 Literature review -- 3 Research design -- 4 Findings -- 5 Discussion -- 6 Conclusion -- References

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Research

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Languages & Literature

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Chavalin Svetanant

Additional Supervisor 1

Thomas Baudinette

Additional Supervisor 2

Lauren Gorfinkel


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:






81 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 271017

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