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Los Paisanos del Puerto
Dorcas Tang

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Los Paisanos del Puerto presents narratives of the descendants of Chinese immigrants (1855-1955) in Puntarenas, Costa Rica using oral interviews and photographs. Through my lens and in their own words, they assert their stories -- largely forgotten and erased in national and global history despite their 160-year presence. As diasporic citizens, the paisanos are simultaneously other-ed by anti-Chinese legislation in Costa Rica while seen as inauthentically Chinese. Normalized discrimination and harassment is a common theme that interweaves these stories. However, there is no singular narrative. Instead, my photo project represents, validates, and amplifies diverse voices bound by their shared heritage. It brings into dialogue a transnational network of diasporic kinship. Los Paisanos highlights the intersections of Chinese and Latinx identity while seeking to question and redefine our definitions of both. While it is by no means comprehensive, it offers a glimpse what it means to navigate this complex identity.



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Dorcas Tang is an artist, photographer, and storyteller whose diasporic identity as a third-generation Chinese-Malaysian drives her work. She is currently a senior at Swarthmore College majoring in Studio Art and double minoring in Spanish and Educational Studies although her parents still hold out hope for her to be a lawyer. Her most recent work is Los Paisanos del Puerto: Portraits of the Chinese diaspora in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Looking towards the future, she is excited to continue bridging communities and fostering critical dialogue through creating socially engaged visual narratives. If she could have any superpower in the world it would be the ability to completely understand other human beings. And cats.


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