Monday, September 29, 2014

[Event] Summer Field Trip 2014 Exhibition: Ngay’ay Ho Taitung

Our students have participated the fieldtrip to Doulan and Chihshang, Taitung last summer. To share the result of their research, we have organized an exhibition at Hui Gallery, New Asia College, CUHK, 13-24 October. 

Doulan and Taitung are popular places for tourists. In the two places, there are different voices of how the place, or community should be developed. We hope that through looking the agricultural development, ethnic relations and colonial legacy of the two place as examples, the exhibition can offer some insights on forms of development of identity and community, which may be different from those in Hong Kong.

Opening Ceremony: 12:00 p.m., October 13, 2014
Exhibition Date: October 13 - 24, 2014
Venue: Hui Gallery, New Asia College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Opening hours of Hui Gallery: 
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday); 
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Saturdays); 
Closed (Sundays and Public Holidays).
Enquiries: 3943 7670

Refreshment will be provided in the opening ceremony. All are welcome! 
For more information, please see the invitation letter below. 

Invitation letter

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Orientation Activities for Newly Admitted Undergraduate Students 2014-2015

Group photo at the late-night supper
Photo credit: Anthromate
Under the theme of "WEWAH! Museum", the 20 newly admitted students participated in the Department Orientation Camp organized by the department student society from August 16 to 19, 2014. The camp included both in and off campus team-building activities and a talk on Japanese Gothic culture. With the help of the society committee members and campus life tutors, the freshmen was given an opportunity to have better understanding of the department, their own profession and future objectives.  The camp created and fostered strong bonds between the incoming freshmen and the fellow anthropology students, which also reinforced the sense of belonging for all of them.

Campfire Dance.
Photo credit: Anthromate
Detective Game
Photo credit: Anthromate

Ice-Breaking Game
Photo credit: Anthromate
In-campus Mass Game
Photo credit: Anthromate
Please click here for more photos.

On September 11,  over 30 students joined the welcoming dinner organised by the student society at Oriental Kingdom restaurant in Ma On Shan. All the attendants received an red pocket from the student society.

Group photo
Photo credit: Anthromate

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In the Press: 為什麼要研究廣場舞? Public Dance Study

Our M.phil. student, Qianni Wang , was interviewed by Modernedge for her public dance study. (Chinese only)
"口述|王芊霓                    採訪|EDGE記者 王冬豔

[Nepali Culture Workshop 2014-2015] Employment for South Asians in Hong Kong: The case of the Nepalis

Employment for South Asians in Hong Kong: The case of the Nepalis

Speaker: Dr. LEUNG Yuk-ming Lisa
(Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, Deputy Director, Master of Cultural Studies (MCS), Lingnan University)
Date: September 27, 2014 (Saturday)
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building (NAH), New Asia College, CUHK


Dr. Leung is an Associate Professor of Cultural Studies of Lingnan University. Dr. Leung’s research focuses on Post-colonial Studies, Gender and Cultural Identity, Globalization and Localization Studies, Women’s Cultural History in Hong Kong, Cross-Cultural Studies, Gender Studies in Hong Kong, Globalization and Cultural Identity. Dr Leung is co-author of the recent publication Understanding South Asian Minorities in Hong Kong (2014 Hong Kong University Press).

All interested are welcome.


[Nepali Culture Workshop 2014-2015] Public Seminar Schedule (Sept - Nov 2014)

The Nepali Culture Workshop 2014-2015 will hold 4 public seminars this fall. You are cordially invited to attend the seminars and all interested are welcome. 

The details are listed as below:

For inquiry, please contact Ms. Winsome Lee via email at

[Indian Culture Workshop 2013-2014] Multimedia Presentations for Secondary School Students and Teachers

Professor Tam and the cultural trainers signing Namaste at Yuen Long Merchants Association Secondary School.

In March 2014, participants of the Indian Culture Workshop, under the supervision of Prof Siumi Maria Tam, took up the role of cultural trainers and gave multimedia presentations to 523 students and teachers from four local secondary schools.

The presentations covered three topics chosen by the trainers themselves. Each topic lasted 20-30 minutes. During the presentations, students watched powerpoint slideshows and video clips, enjoyed mass games and quizzes, as well as appreciated cultural artifacts such as costumes and food items from India. Before the end of the presentations, the students seized the chance to ask in-depth questions about the topics in the Q & A sessions. Let’s have a look now at what our Indian Culture Trainers included in the presentations, and how they reflected on this special experience!


Topic 1: Hinduism
Yat Heng CHAN, MA in Anthropology, CUHK

For this presentation on Hinduism, the dominant religion in India, the key message was the importance of remaining open-minded and showing respect to other cultures, especially on the subject of religion.

I used a story-telling approach in my presentation so that the audience, who were unfamiliar with Hinduism, could grasp the basic beliefs of the religion easily. The presentation focused on the 10 avatars (or incarnations) of Vishnu, which represent 10 era in the Hindu cosmology, from the beginning of time to the end.

In the story of the first incarnation, Matsya the fish tells how Manu was instructed to build a big boat to save one of every species from a flood. The audience was able to draw linkages between this Hindu myth and the Christian myth of Noah’s ark, thus showing their ability to identify similarities between different belief systems.

In the story of the third incarnation, Varaha the boar tells of the formation of heaven and hell, while the story of the sixth incarnation Parasurama explains the development of human civilization. The story of the ninth incarnation Buddha challenges our understanding of Buddhism. Students were surprised to learn that Buddha, according to Hinduism, is an incarnation of Vishnu. He has come to Earth to remind people about the consequences of their own deeds, and to teach them to free themselves from the reincarnation cycle, before Shiva the god of destruction comes.

It was heartening to see secondary students taking an active part in the presentation, and enjoying the quizzes in particular. They were all eager to learn new information, with some jotting notes spontaneously, and were receptive to challenges of stereotypical concepts regarding minorities in Hong Kong.


Our cultural trainers interacting with the students.
Students having a taste of wearing Indian costumes.


Topic 2: Food and Culture
Wing Tung Connie LEE, BA student, Anthropology, CUHK
Yi Chen RAO, MPhil student, Anthropology, CUHK
Qi Ran REN, MA in Anthropology, CUHK

This exciting presentation on Indian food culture energized the audience to the max. The presentation started with an introduction on the diversity of food cultures in India. It showed that Indian food is not one single national cuisine, but rather includes a large variety of regional dishes, which have developed in different environmental and cultural settings.

A video clip took the audience to places in Hong Kong where they could try Indian cuisine, with a highlight on Chungking Mansions. It showed that ethnic minority cultures are very much part of our daily lives. All we need to do is to open our eyes and allow ourselves to learn about others’ cultures.

The students were eager to take part in the quiz after the presentation, making use of their new-found knowledge to answer the questions for prizes. The audience was asked to compare the regional differences in Chinese cuisines with the regional differences in Indian cuisines. By doing so, the audience was encouraged to link the experiences of their own culture to another culture with which they were unfamiliar. This exercise helped students to think critically about what was taken-for-granted in their everyday life, and to develop new perspectives on our own society. Multiculturalism as a way of life allows us to be more open-minded and help to make Hong Kong a truly cosmopolitan society.


Our cultural trainer Chan Yat Heng presenting his project on Hinduism at HKTA Tang Hin Memorial Secondary School.

Students listening attentively to a presentation on Indian food culture. 

Professor Maria Tam (4th left) and the teacher in charge (6th left), with cultural trainers and students. 


Topic 3: Gender and Family
Wing Yee Gloria CHUANG, BA student, Anthropology, CUHK
Hei Tung Nicola CHUI, BA student, Anthropology, CUHK
Tsz Kwan Cutter LAI, BA in Philosophy, Lingnan University

This presentation started with two advertisements of a cookie product; one was aired in Hong Kong and the other in India. They have a similar story line: a little girl invites her father to play house and shares some cookies with him.

Students were amused by the obvious cultural differences in gender roles, though the commercials share the same plot and slogan. In the Hong Kong version, the interaction between father and daughter focuses on play and fun, while the Indian version emphasizes the daughter’s domestic duty—females should serve food to the males in the family. The comparison showed the gender relations in different societies can be very different both practically and ideologically.

According to surveys conducted in India, both women and men possess very stereotypical views on sexual division of labor. Both sexes think that females should develop their career either in the household or in “feminine” professions, such as nurse or teacher. This means that women’s wage work is seen to be an extension of their domestic duties, as the majority in India considers the male is the breadwinner and belongs to the public sphere, while the female is the carer and belongs to the private sphere.

Students agreed that although Hong Kong is a more gender-equal society, male-preference is still prevalent in our social norms. They gave an example that Hong Kong women are mostly employed in the fields of education, service, and caring professions. But they also acknowledged that with female empowerment, young women are able to enter fields that used to be dominated by men, such as engineering.

This topic is important because gender is a core part of a person’s social identity. Having a sensibility for gender equality allows a young person to develop self-esteem and see her/himself in a healthy and positive light, and simultaneously helps to enhance a sense of social responsibility and justice. Examples from another culture allow us to examine gender relations from a distance, and thus serve as a mirror into which we can see and reflect on ourselves more rationally.


Professor Tam introducing the Indian Culture Workshop at New Asia Middle School.

Students taking part in the mass quiz game. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We've Started Accepting Applications for MPhil/PhD Programmes 2015-16!

Here is some brief application information of the MPhil/PhD programmes of the Department of Anthropology at CUHK. For more details please visit the Department's homepage.

MPhil in Anthropology
It normally takes two years (full-time) to complete 28 units. Students must also pass a General Anthropology Examination based on a department reading list.

PhD in Anthropology
The programme is research-oriented. A student may be asked to take additional courses or tutorials, and will be required to present an annual written progress report to his/her supervisor. After passing Qualifying Exams, the student advances to PhD Candidate. Within six months of candidature, the PhD Candidate must submit a Research Proposal for a project requiring nine to twelve months of fieldwork. On return from fieldwork, the student will prepare a thesis based on fieldwork research.

Fields of Specialization
The Division focuses geographically on Chinese culture and society (especially South China) and on East and Southeast Asian Studies. Research topics include nationalism, ethnicity, religion, gender, development and social change, urban and youth cultures, heritage management, archaeology and museology.

Admission Requirements

MPhil in Anthropology
Applicants should have majored in anthropology or related fields.

PhD in Anthropology
Applicants should possess a master's degree in anthropology from CUHK or other recognized universities. Applicants with a background in fields other than anthropology may be considered for conditional admission.

Additional Application Information
Applicants are required to furnish proof of their research capability by submitting academic references, transcripts, samples of writings or publications such as thesis or project reports, and a statement of purpose (2-3 pages) describing why the applicant wants to study anthropology at CUHK and what research project the applicant proposes to carry out. If relevant for research, some evidence of Chinese proficiency is also required for non-native speakers.

Admission Advisor: Prof. Joseph BOSCO

Application Deadline:
1 December 2014, GMT+8 12:00
For applicants who apply for PhD programme through the Hong Kong PhD FellowshipScheme (HKPFS)
31 January 2015
For applicants who apply for MPhil/PhD programme directly with CUHK (i.e. non-HKPFS applicants)

[Indian Culture Workshop 2013-2014] Press Conference

Prof. Maria Tam (Right) and workshop participant Mr. Ren Qiran sharing at the press conference.

Prof. Siumi Maria Tam introduced her Multiculturalism in Action project findings and, together with Workshop participants, shared aspirations for social harmony, at the press conference last Saturday, September 20, 2014. The hour-long press conference turned out to be a 2-hour long fruitful discussion. 

Prof. Tam discussing the social marginalisation faced by the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.

As a cultural anthropologist, Prof. Tam has developed research projects focusing on issues of cultural identity as they interface with ethnicity, gender, and transnational mobility. Through her studies on South Asian groups in Hong Kong, namely the Nepali and Indian communities, she found that public misunderstanding and social stereotypes have led to personal and structural discrimination, and cross-cultural ignorance gives rise to social isolation and exclusion, which further reinforce unhealthy ethnic relations and underuse of talents, with a negative impact on Hong Kong’s development as a cosmopolitan society.
Mr. Ren Qiran sharing his experience in the Indian Cultural Workshop.

During the press conference, Prof Tam was being asked about her views on the racist attitudes towards the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. She pointed out the relatively high level of cultural illiteracy in Hong Kong, as well as the superficial events on promoting ethnic minorities cultures held by the Race Relations Unit did very little on inviting the public to really engage with the minorities. In hopes of disarming the racial stereotypes and discrimination in Hong Kong, Prof Tam has produced an 80-page bilingual information booklet together with a DVD highlighted the seminars and field visits. She hoped that the information kit would benefit education institutions to develop culturally sensitive lessons on the one hand, and raise awareness of the role of the Indians in Hong Kong since 19th century on the other.

Media Coverage:

Lam, Lana. “Academic’s Free Educational Materials to Battle Racism,” South China Morning Post. 21 September, 2014. at

<<>>20140920日。「中大印製文化資料集 助了解少數族裔減歧視」。


Monday, September 22, 2014

[Upcoming Seminar] Seen But Not Heard: Language, Recognition, and the Political Representation of Ethnicity in Late Socialist China

Seen But Not Heard: Language, Recognition, and the Political Representation of Ethnicity in Late Socialist China

Speaker: HA Guangtian 
(Postdoctoral Fellow, SOAS, University of London)
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 26 September 2014  
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


Political claim-making in terms of ethnic difference assumes essentially different forms across different configurations of politics. If liberal politics of recognition often entails the precarious essentialization of ethnic "cultures," what does a socialist politics of recognition look like, if such a politics exists at all? What kind of language -- or the lack of it -- is structurally necessitated by this politics? How can ethnic difference achieve legally and institutionally framed political representation within this politics? This talk examines these questions by focusing upon the particularly excruciating predicaments faced by contemporary ethnic cadres in the Chinese bureaucracy. It argues that a historically specific and structurally determined foreclosure of speaking characterizes their position and obstructs the realization of political representation for ethnic minorities. 


Friday, September 19, 2014

[Indian Culture Workshop 2013-2014] Visit to Zoroastrian Temple

Ervad Homyar introducing Zoroastrian rituals to the participants.
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world, which originated in today’s Iran. The followers are called Parsee or Parsi.  In the 8th to 10th century, many Parsees fled to northwest India in order to escape from the Muslim conquest of Persia.  Many have since settled in Mumbai or further migrated to different parts of the world.

In Hong Kong, the Parsee community is made up of just over 200 people.  The closely bonded community gather regularlyat the temple in Causeway Bay. The temple is overseen by an ervad, a priest who is knowledgeable in religious teaching and takes care of the fire.

The Indian Culture Workshop organized a visit to the temple in March 2014. During our visit, Ervad Homyar shared an interesting story with us: When the Parsee migrants arrived in India and requested to settle, the Indian king refused.  The king then  filled a glass to the brim with milk, to show that there was no space for the Parsees to settle in India.  The wise Zoroastrian priest asked for some sugar and put it into the milk. The sugar instantaneously dissolved without any overflow.  The priest tried to provenot only would the Parsees not overload India but would make it even better.  The king was convinced and allowed the Zoroastrians to settle.  From then on, wherever the Parsees go, they would help to improve the society they settle in.

The three basic principles in Zoroastrianism are “Think with good intentions, “Say good words and “Do good deeds.  Many Chinese misunderstand the religion, as its Chinese translation means  “the religion that worships fire”.  In fact, the Zoroastrians do not worship fire; instead, they use it as a medium to communicate with their deity.  They believe that all elements of nature (including water, earth, air, fire) are sacred, but among these, fire is the most special.

Zoroastrians inherit their religious identity patrilineally, and they do not actively seek to convert.  As in all religions, Zoroastrians mark their life stages with specific rituals, like navjote.  Between age six and puberty, Zoroastrian children go through navjote, a rite of initiation overseen by their father.  They wear a special white garment (sudra) with a white rope (kusti), and recite a prayer.  Thereafter, the child is considered a member of the church.

Due to different kinds of restrictions, not all Zoroastrian traditions can be carried out the way they had been. The community has to find ways to adapt and localizeErvad Homyar led us on a visit to the Parsi Cemetery in Happy Valley, where he explained that a Zoroastrian’s body should return to nature after death.  As only cremation and coffin burial are allowed in Hong Kong, instead of a traditional sky burial, a burial is practiced after the death of a Zoroastrian.

The Zoroastrian community is relatively closed and low-profile, it is however not difficult to find the footprints of famous Zoroastrian philanthropists in Hong Kong.  Sir HN Mody, a Parsee real estate entrepreneur, was one of the major donor of the University of Hong Kong.  Recognising his social contribution, Mody Road in Tsim Sha Tsui is named after him.  Other Parsee merchants like JH Ruttonjee and DN Mithaiwala also made important contributions to  Hong Kong’s public health and transportation development. The former  established Ruttonjee Sanatorium and the latter the Star Ferry.