Hunter College

Peter Kwong, 1941-2017

Peter Kwong, a pioneering scholar of Asian-American studies and immigration whose many works of journalism included bylines for City Limits, died Friday.

Kwong, born in Taiwan in 1941, served as distinguished professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College, as well as professor of sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He helped create a 1980 documentary, “Third Avenue: Only the Strong Survive,” that won an Emmy. His work was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and he co-produced a documentary, “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province,” that was nominated for a 2009 Academy Award.

His books include “Chinese America: The Untold Story of America’s Oldest New Community,” “Chinese Americans: An Immigrant Experience” (which he co-authored with his wife, Chinese historian Dusanka Miscevic) “Forbidden Workers: Chinese Illegal Immigrants and American Labor,” “The New Chinatown,” and “Chinatown, New York: Labor and Politics 1930-1950.” His work appeared in The Nation, the International Herald Tribune, the Globe and Mail, Village Voice and City Limits. Two days before his death he was featured in an NPR story about gentrification in Chinatowns.

“Kwong challenged the notion that Asians are a model minority, revealing in his research widespread class divisions, poverty, exploitation, drug abuse, and organized crime–all of which were exacerbated by decades of discrimination by a majority white society,” Joseph Viteritti, a professor at Hunter and the chair of its Urban Policy and Planning Department wrote in an email to staff.

Last year Kwong appeared on a City Limits-moderated panel at the Brooklyn Historical Society on the growing Brooklyn Chinatown in Bensonhurst.

The Asian Communities in Bensonhurst from Brooklyn Historical Society on Vimeo.