Hillary Jenks

Faculty Advisor: George Sanchez

Contact Information

E-mail: hjenks@pdx.edu

Biographical Sketch

Hillary Jenks is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies in the University Honors Program at Portland State University. She teaches the freshman and sophomore honors core curriculum, as well as upper-division seminars in urban history, architecture, and popular memory. Dr. Jenks received her doctorate in American Studies and Ethnicity from USC in August 2008. She is now revising her dissertation, entitled "Home is Little Tokyo": Race, Community, and Memory in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles, for publication as a book manuscript. This project combines archival and ethnographic research to examine the spatial and memorial practices through which the state and racialized communities have together, though with unequal access to power and resources, produced ethnoracially-inscribed spaces in the twentieth-century American city with significant material and symbolic consequences for domestic racial formations, global flows of capital, the use and organization of urban space, and the reproduction of ethnic identity and community. Dr. Jenks's research has appeared in a special edition of GeoJournal on collective memory and urban space, as well as in Cultural Landscapes: Balancing Nature and Heritage in Preservation Practice, a collection of articles edited by Richard Longstreth.


  • B.A. USC, 12/1995
  • M.A. American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California, 2007

Employment History

  • Assistant Professor, Portland State University, Oregon, 2008 - Present


Summary Statement of Research Interests

  • My dissertation, "Home Is Little Tokyo": Race, Community, and Memory in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles, contributes to scholarship on the spatial and racial dynamics of the twentieth-century American city, particularly literatures occupied with the formation of, and social interactions and community succession within, areas classed as "ghettoes" and "enclaves." Using archival and ethnographic methods within a comparative framework, I chart the intersection of racialized political and economic policy at local, national, and international levels with the diversity of lived experience and contemporary recollection on the ground in the multi-ethnic, multiracial "Little Tokyo" neighborhood of Los Angeles. My research defines key moments of encounter, friction, and cooperation among Little Tokyo’s many communities over the course of the twentieth century in order to uncover a larger narrative about the redrawing of America’s racial landscape and the role of place in shaping identity and community in a dynamic urban context.



  • Department of American Studies & Ethnicity
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South Vermont Avenue
  • Kaprielian Hall 462
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-2534