Bio


William Gow is a San Francisco-based historian, educator, and documentary filmmaker. His research interests include Asian American history, race and visual culture, and the history of California in the Pacific World. His current book project, tentatively entitled "Performing Chinatown: Hollywood, Tourism, and the Making of a Los Angeles Community," examines the social, economic, and political contexts through which representations of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles were produced and consumed during the Chinese exclusion era. The book project draws on oral histories, archival research, and analysis of film and related visual culture.

A proud product of San Francisco’s public school system, William holds an MA in Asian American Studies from UCLA and a PhD in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. Prior to entering his doctoral program, William worked for eight years as a high school history teacher in California. He also served as a community historian with the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in Los Angeles Chinatown. His documentary More to the Chinese Side (co-directed with Sharon Heijin Lee in 2003) was a finalist for the Golden Reel Award at the Visual Communications Asian American Film Festival in Los Angeles. The video is a first-person examination of his family history, mixed race identity, and Chinese American community. His writing and research have appeared in a variety of publications including Pacific Historical Review, Amerasia Journal, and the CHSSC's Gum Saan Journal.

In 2019, the Western History Association awarded William the Vicki Ruiz Award for Best Journal article on Race in the North American West for his essay, "A Night in Old Chinatown: American Orientalism, China Relief Fundraising, and the 1938 Moon Festival in Los Angeles" published in Pacific Historical Review.

Academic Appointments


  • Lecturer, American Studies

Honors & Awards


  • Vicki L Ruiz Award, Best journal article on race in the North American West, Western History Association (2019)

Professional Education


  • BFA, New York University
  • MA, University of California, Los Angeles
  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley

2020-21 Courses


All Publications


  • Chinese Railroad Workers in American History Textbooks: A Historical Geneology, 1849-1965 Chinese and the Iron Road: Buidling the Transcontinental Railroad Gow, W. edited by Chang, G. H., Fishkin, S. F. Stanford University Press. 2019
  • A Night in Old Chinatown: American Orientalism, China Relief Fundraising and the 1938 Moon Festival in Los Angeles Pacific Historical Review Gow, W. 2018; 87 (3): 439-472
  • More to the Chinese Side: Ruminations of a Fifth-Generation Chinese American Filmmaker Branching Out the Bayan Tree: A Changing Chinese America Gow , W. 2007: 185–90