Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ask An Anthropologist about Marriage

In the articke Ask An Anthropologist about Marriage, Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, commented that the counsel for the Prop 8 supporters "should have asked an anthropologist. "

Anthropologists always have a lot to say about marriage, given kinship is, after all, one of our historic, signature issues. "And that gives us something to say about the core claim by counsel for Prop 8," said Professor Joyce.

Especially when the counsel used the term "the age-old definition of marriage."
Professor Joyce said: "To an anthropologist, that sounds remarkably quaint. Whose age-old definition? Globally, the cultural tradition being argued is one among many..."  And she quoted from a statement by American Anthropological Association in 2004 which was inspired by a call for a constitutional amendment to enshrine that definition,
The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.
There are plenty of ethnographies upholding this statement. As John Borneman and Laurie Kain Hart wrote in the Washington Post  in 2004,
What, then, about restriction of the legal bond of marriage to a man and a woman? Does marriage have to be heterosexual? The human record tells us otherwise. While the model of marriage is arguably heterosexual, the practice of marriage is not. In a broad spectrum of societies in Africa, for example, when a woman's husband dies, she may take on his legal role in the family, and acquire a legal "wife" to help manage the domestic establishment. This role of wife is above all social, and not contingent on her sexual relations. These societies, which practice heterosexuality, take this woman-woman marriage as commonsensical; they recognize that above all marriage functions socially to extend and stabilize the network of care.
In the end, she concluded: "If you are going to make a claim about universal human relations-- ask an anthropologist."

To read the full article, please click here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Invited Seminar: 信息社會的鄉土中國

8 March 2013





Calvin XUE
M.Phil. Candidate

Friday, March 8, 2013

Faculty Colloquium: Shampoo in China: Development, Consumerism, and Modernity

"Shampoo in China: Development, Consumerism, and Modernity"

Speaker Prof. Joseph Bosco
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, CUHK

Time: 16:00 p.m., Friday, 15 March 2013
Venue: G24, Arts and Humanities Hub, Fung King Hey Building 

This talk seeks to understand consumerism by examining the rapid adoption of shampoo in China since 1979. Before 1979, the same bar soap used for laundry was used for washing the body and hair, and it was rationed. In the 1980s, many domestic soap and shampoo brands emerged, but after 1986, products made by multinational companies became popular. Many consumer advocates have argued that the quality differences between different brands are slight. Yet some “foreign” brands (made in China) cost three times or more than local brands. Why are people willing to pay a premium for fancy soap and shampoo, when only the user, in most cases, knows what type of soap he/she has used? What images and ideals are consumers buying with each bar or bottle? What does the rapid adoption of shampoo in China tell us about consumerism and the prospects for sustainable development?

The talk will take about an hour followed by half an hour of Q&A. It will also be a good chance for colleagues and students to chat over coffee and refreshments after the talk. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Event: Book Sharing on "Ghetto at the Center of the World" by Prof. Mathews

Speaker: 麥高登教授 Prof. Gordon Mathews
Guests: 沈旭暉教授 Prof. Simon Shen , 楊瑒 Nicole Yang
Time: 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Venue: Yasumoto International Academic Park康本國際學術園(YIA) LT1
Language: English
Hosting Organisation:紅出版集團 Red Corporation Ltd




A fascinating tour of Chungking Mansions—possibly the most globalized spot in the world —and a peek into the future of life on our shrinking planet

There is nowhere else in the world quite like Chungking Mansions, a dilapidated seventeen-story commercial and residential structure in the heart of Hong Kong's tourist district. A remarkably motley group of people call the building home; Pakistani phone stall operators, Chinese guesthouse workers, Nepalese heroin addicts, Indonesian sex workers, and traders and asylum seekers from all over Asia and Africa live and work there - even backpacking tourists rent rooms. In short, it is possibly the most globalized spot on the planet.

But as "Ghetto at the Center of the World" shows us, a trip to Chungking Mansions reveals a far less glamorous side of globalization. A world away from the gleaming headquarters of multinational corporations, Chungking Mansions is emblematic of the way globalization actually works for most of the world's people.

Gordon Mathews' intimate portrayal of the building's polyethnic residents lays bare their intricate connections to the international circulation of goods, money, and ideas. We come to understand the day-to-day realities of globalization through the stories of entrepreneurs from Africa carting cell phones in their luggage to sell back home and temporary workers from South Asia struggling to earn money to bring to their families. And we see that this so-called ghetto - which inspires fear in many of Hong Kong's other residents, despite its low crime rate-is not a place of darkness and desperation but a beacon of hope. Gordon Mathews' compendium of riveting stories enthralls and instructs in equal measure, making Ghetto at the Center of the World not just a fascinating tour of a singular place but also a peek into the future of life on our shrinking planet.
Registration is not required. All are welcome.
Inquiry:2540 7517 Winnie Lau /

Friday, March 1, 2013

Upcoming Seminar: 信息社會的鄉土中國

Speaker: 任珏 
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 8 March 2013
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK
Language: Mandarin Chinese 普通話主講


歷時 5 年的“家電下鄉"政策已於 2013 年 1 月底落下帷幕,始於 20 世紀 70 年代中期的農村信息化仍在繼續,中國農村的城鎮化建設更加如火如荼。在國家主導的消費熱潮下,農村家庭已逐漸接受以電腦、互聯網為代表的信息科技消費。與此同時,筆者在田野調查中發現中國農民的農村身份正在慢慢消失。中國農村家庭在“馴養"信息科技的過程中,到底發生了怎樣的文化變遷,農村性別關係與電腦採用又產生了怎樣的交互作用?我將分析中國中部農村家庭成員在採用電腦及互聯網的過程中,如何形塑他們的性別角色及城鄉身份,借此探究中國信息化、城鎮化建設與中國農村發展的複雜關係。

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