Sunday, October 28, 2012

Invited Seminar: Cultural Transmission- The Rules of the Game

Assistant Curator of African Ethnology, Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History
"Cultural Transmission- The Rules of the Game"
5 Oct 2012

Dr. De Voogt gave a presentation on board games and how their study can advance our understanding of cultural transmission theory. Board games require that players have a consensus on rules, so tend to change relatively slowly.

He illustrated the transmission of games with two examples from the archaeology of the Middle East. The distribution and dating of excavated examples show that the game of twenty squares spread through conquest, while the game of fifty-eight holes spread along trade routes. Much can be learned about cultural transmission even though we do not know how the games were played.

He also discussed the case of the Maldives, which unusually has a Mancala board game that is not played in other nearby cultures in the Indian Ocean, but follows the rules very much like Malaysia. He used an interdisciplinary methodology, including collecting data from archaeological artifacts, local rules of the game, and even DNA analysis to see if the Maldive Islanders were genetically related to Malays. The case is still a mystery; solving this mystery may not only tell us about Maldive culture, but about cultural transmission more generally.

 During the course of the talk, Dr. De Voogt proposed several hypotheses about the transmission of board games. He noted that the larger the regional scale, the smaller the changes across generations. He also said that the more complex the board game is, the less likely it is to change as it spreads. Board games spreading across socio-cultural boundaries are more likely to have innovations. He also noted that games can change gender, going from a men’s game to women’s game or vice versa.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Upcoming Seminar: Rumors about Chinese Convict Laborers in Developing Countries

"A New Metaphor of China? Rumors about Chinese Convict Laborers in Developing Countries"

Speaker: YAN Hairong
Department of Applied Social Sciences
Hong Kong Polytechnic University 
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 2 November 2012
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

With Chinese and Chinese companies venturing into developing countries in the recent decades, there has been a global expansion in the discourse about China. There are thus new participants in the making of the discourse, connecting approaches that are vernacular and academic, as well as those of organized institutions, such as political parties and corporate media. Tracking the recent addition to the global discourse of China, this paper studies a globally circulated claim (rumor) that the Chinese government exports prison labour to other developing countries. Based on our fieldwork in a number of countries in Africa, this article examines the origins of the rumour, the mechanisms of its transmission at local, translocal and global levels, and the intersection of the agendas of its promoters. We analyse the rumour’s circulation in light of the larger discourse on China and developing countries and argue that China is conceived with this rumor functioning as its new metaphor. We will examine the politics of this rumor in the specific context of the present. The talk is based on, and expands upon, a recent China Quarterly article jointly authored with Barry Sautman.


Feel free to bring your box lunch or sandwich to eat during the talk

Friday, October 19, 2012

Upcoming Seminar: Optimism Misguided? Teenage Immigrant Students in Hong Kong

"Optimism Misguided? Teenage Immigrant Students in Hong Kong" 

Speaker: CHEE Wai-chi
Part-time Lecturer
Department of Anthropology, CUHK
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 26 October 2012
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


The social integration and educational prospects of school-age immigrants have been a major issue roiling the education systems of an ever-growing list of receiving societies around the world. In Hong Kong, the largest two incoming groups are from Mainland China and from South Asia. A vast majority of them have a working class background and arrive with the hope of becoming middle class through a good education. However, this hope seems misplaced given that most of them, at least upon arrival, go to low rank schools in Hong Kong. The hope seems even more unrealistic for South Asian students given that very few non-Chinese students manage to enrol in university degree programs in Hong Kong. This talk discusses the institutional forces and the discursive and symbolic structures that circumscribe the schooling experiences of these recently arrived immigrant students.


Feel free to bring your box lunch or sandwich to eat during the talk

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Upcoming Seminar: Nepalese Drug Users in Hong Kong

"Nepalese Drug Users in Hong Kong: Ethnicity, Transnationalism, and Marginalization" 

Speaker: Wyman TANG
PhD Candidate
Department of Anthropology, CUHK
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 19 October 2012
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


This research studies two groups of Nepalese drug users in Hong Kong: drug users at ethnic minority schools and drug users on the street. Due to their ethnicity, individuals in both groups felt marginalized by society and resorted to drug use. But they have gone through very different drug careers. Most of the members in the former group have successfully quit drugs, whereas members in the latter group have largely remained on the street taking drugs. The comparison of these two groups of drug users sheds light on the relationship between transnational experiences and drug careers as well as ways of exercising agency among marginal groups.


Feel free to bring your box lunch or sandwich to eat during the talk.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Enjoying Academic Exchange at Postgraduate Student Forum

Every year since 2008-09, the Department of Anthropology has invited postgraduate students from Asia and elsewhere to present their current research at the Postgraduate Student Forum.

The Forum is intended to showcase the best of students’ contemporary research. For the past few years, there were participants coming from Harvard, Columbia University, LSE, SOAS, and many other renowned anthropology programmes.

PhD candidate from LSE is presenting her research.
The forum offers an international
 platfrom for intellectual communication.

Prof. Wang Mingming

Hong Kong is a global city, a major node for trade, investment, and the exchange of ideas. The Postgraduate Student Forum seeks to encourage the communication among young anthropologists in and of the East and Southeast Asian region, to help improve their research and to make the excellent research being conducted in Asia to be better known internationally. The forum covers a wide range of topics and invites famous scholars from different anthropological subfields as discussants.

At the same time we have tried to keep the forum not only educational but also fun! The forum includes various activities such as field trips introducing local culture, dinners featuring a variety of local delicacies", and even music performence by our faculty and students!
The Forum 2011 also includes a field trip to introduce heritages in Hong kong and the local food culture.
Music performance by Professor Gordon Mathews and MPhil student Leah at the opeining ceremony.
Now we are expecting the 5th Annual Postgraduate Student Forum in a few months. We look forward to learning about your research in January! To join us, submit an abstract by 15th Oct 2012. (For more details, please visit the Forum's website.)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Last Call: the 5th Annual Postgraduate Student Forum

Deadline for abstract submission (15th October, 2012) is approaching! We are still waiting for you to share your excellent research with us. Do not miss the opportunity and see you in January!

The Department of Anthropology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong invites graduate students in Asia and elsewhere to present their current research at the 5th Annual Postgraduate Student Forum. The theme for this year's conference is, Anthropology in Asia: Conceptions, Perspectives and Debates.

The forum will take place on 18-19th January, 2013, and seeks to encourage communication among young anthropologists around the world, to help improve their research and to make the excellent research being conducted in Asia better known internationally. Presentations may be in English, Putonghua, and Cantonese, though English is encouraged. When submitting your abstract please inform us in which language you will be presenting.

Abstracts should be written in English only and less than 250 words. Applications for a limited number of travel scholarships will be accepted. For more information, please visit our website, or contact us at