On May 21, 2020, the UC Berkeley Library announced its 2020 Charlene Conrad Libeau Library Prize winners, which includes Divya Jain, a spring 2020 CED graduate. Jain’s capstone thesis “Identity Politics and Cultural Placemaking: The Americanization of Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, CA” earned her one of the four upper division prizes. Jain is the second student in the past four years from the architecture department to receive this prestigious university-wide award.
According to the Berkeley Library website, the prize has recognized excellence in course-based research projects with winning projects demonstrating significant inquiry using the library, its resources, and collections as well as evidence of learning about the research and information-gathering process itself. Since its creation in 2003, the prize has been awarded to students from various departments and disciplines.
Jain’s application included an essay of her research strategies and use of library resources, her research project, a bibliography, and a statement of support from her mentor, Dr. Catherine E. Covey. Jain was enrolled in Covey’s one-year Capstone Research and Thesis Seminar, ARCH 102A/B History, Theory, and Society (HTS), “Intersections of Past, Present, and Future” in which Jain developed her research proposal and thesis.
Jain’s research project centers on San Francisco’s Portsmouth Square and how urban interventions in this space reflect American and Chinese-American cultural identities and at times the latter’s lack thereof.
“Through a survey of historical images and urban interventions in this space, Divya identifies three eras of change to construct a unique perspective of Portsmouth Square and the lasting impact of Chinese Exclusion.” UC Berkeley Library said.
“In order to accurately represent this history, I greatly relied on the Him Mark Lai Papers and the university’s microfilm collection, which provided essential historical images to shape my thesis. Receiving recognition for this work has furthered my appreciation for the importance of historical research in the field of Architecture.”
“The narrative of Chinese immigration and the formation of the Chinese-American identity as distinct from both Chinese and American is essential not only to the historical understanding of Portsmouth Square, and Chinatown, but also to holistically understanding what it means to be Chinese-American.” Jain said. “This historical narrative reveals the power of space in the development of cultural identity, as well as the reciprocal power of identity in shaping space.”
Learn more about Jain’s work here.