Department of Ethnic Studies - College of Letters and Science - University of California, Berkeley

People / Graduate Students


William Gow

Asian American Studies; US Transpacific History; Race, Film, and Visual Culture; Community-Engaged Historical Methodologies

Bio & Research Interests

William Gow is a doctoral candidate in Ethnic Studies with a designated emphasis in Film Studies. His doctoral dissertation, “Performing Chinatown: Hollywood Cinema, Tourism, and the Formation of A Los Angeles Community, 1931-1949," examines the social, economic, and political contexts through which representations of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles were produced and consumed. Foregrounding the relationship between classical Hollywood cinema and Los Angeles Chinatown, the dissertation documents the ways in which proximity to Hollywood gave Chinese Americans in Los Angeles an ability to create, negotiate, and critically engage changing popular representations of Asians and Asian Americans. This interdisciplinary project has a digital community documentation component and draws on a range of methodologies including archival research, oral history, and close readings of visual and material culture.

Before entering UC Berkeley, he worked for eight years as a public school history teacher in California. During that time he also served as a volunteer community historian and board member with the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California (CHSSC) in Los Angeles Chinatown. At the CHSSC, he founded and directed the Chinatown Remembered project, which trained high school and college age youth to document the history of Chinatown through digital video. His first digital documentary, More to the Chinese Side, (co-directed with Sharon Heijin Lee in 2003) was a first-person look at his parents' interracial marriage, his own mixed race identity, and negotiating his Chinese American heritage.  A proud product of San Francisco’s public school system, he graduated with departmental honors in Cinema Studies and a double major in history from NYU before receiving an MA in Asian American Studies from UCLA.


Catherine Ceniza Choy
Shari Huhndorf

Courses Taught or Assisted

As Lead Instructor or Adjunct Lecturer

“Imagining Home: Race, Place, and Nation in Literature and Film,” Lower Division, Asian American Studies, Reading and Composition, UC Berkeley

"Doing Community History: Los Angeles Chinatown,” Upper Division, Asian American Studies, Research Methods, UCLA                   

Courses Assisted

Introduction to Asian American History, Lower division, Asian American Studies, UCLA

Communication Theory, Lower division, Communication Studies, UCLA

Reading And Composition, Lower division, Asian American Studies, UC Berkeley

Ethnic Studies Social Science Research Methods, Upper division, UC Berkeley

Select publications

“Building A Chinese Village in Los Angeles: Christine Sterling and the Residents of China City,” Gum Saan Journal, Volume 32, No 1. 2010, 39-53.

“How My Great-Grandfather Lost His Name: Reflections on Doing Chinese American Genealogical Research,” Amerasia Journal, Volume 34, No. 1, 2008, 163-170.

“More to the Chinese Side: The Ruminations of a Fifth Generation Chinese American Filmmaker,” Chinese America: History and Perspective, 2007, 185-189.

 “Wong Ah Gow: The Life of a Chinese Merchant in Ventura County: 1853-1929,” Gum Saan Journal, Volume 29, Number 1, 2006, 21-44.