Friday, November 28, 2014

[Friday Seminar Recap] Race, Education, and Citizenship: Mobile Malaysians and a Culture of Migration

Race, Education, and Citizenship: Mobile Malaysians and a Culture of Migration

Speaker: KOH Sin Yee  
(Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong)
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 24 October, 2014  
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


The seminar
Dr. Koh argued that Malaysia’s brain drain and culture of migration amongst “mobile Malaysians” is a colonial legacy inherited and exacerbated by the post-colonial Malaysian state. Mobile Malaysians are the tertiary-educated Malaysians with transnational migration experience.

Dr. Koh collected data though interviews with informants in Singapore and the UK, as well as with returnees, and also did archival research. She tracked Malaysia’s brain drain and talent recruitment scheme. Many of the tertiary-educated Malaysians migrated to countries such as Singapore, Australia, United States, and the UK. The major reason for their emigration is initially for education. Many Malaysians, especially the Malaysian Chinese who have studied in Chinese schools, choose to continue their education in overseas institutions. Many do not think of it as a choice, but as normal. Some of them choose to reside in the foreign county and renounce their Malaysian citizenship after graduation, even though emigration will be considered as a disloyal act. To encourage foreign-educated Malaysians  to return to Malaysia, the government has adopted a series of measures, including tax relief and adaptation policies for the spouses and children. Yet, the racial policies lead many to hesitate to return.

Dr. KOH Sin Yee
Dr. Koh emphasized the role of the colonial legacy of racially- and languistically- stratified education system in the process. As Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country, the education system was segregated into four streams, Malay, English, Indian and Chinese. The English stream was the most prestigious and linked to better tertiary education opportunities, jobs and livelihood. Unlike the Malay stream, students in the Indian and Chinese stream are not allowed to transit into the English stream. To seek for better education opportunities, the students in the Indian and Chinese stream have no choice but to study abroad. Students may study in boarding school or a twinning programme first, then study for an overseas degree and look for post-graduate employment.

The attendants
Dr. Koh also found the Malaysians considered citizenship to be an ethno-national identity, instead of a matter of civil and political rights and responsibilities. Citizenship is also linked to the notion of loyalty, which is associated with the family, the place of origin and the ethnic group. Dr. Koh explained how many of the current issues stem from the facts of Malaysia’s history, from its founding as a multiethnic nation, the series of racial conflicts (including the Malayan union citizenship controversy, the Malayan emergency, and the race riots of 1969), and the resulting political alliance between race-based political parties (UMNO, MCA and MIC).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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

Multiculturalism in Action: Nepali Culture Workshop
Session 1: Employment for South Asians in Hong Kong: The case of the Nepalis
Guest Speaker: Prof. Leung Yuk-Ming, Lisa

Prof. Tam giving an introduction on the situation of Nepali women in Hong Kong.
As a sequel to the “Multiculturalism in Action: Indian Culture Workshop” in 2013-14, Prof Maria Tam organized the “Multiculturalism in Action: Nepali Culture Workshop” in the academic year 2014-15. The aim of the Workshop is to raise the awareness of cultural diversity among tertiary students, and to bring about mutual empowerment between Chinese and Nepali participants. With the theme social marginalization, discrimination, and empowerment, a series of talks and visits are planned. In the first session of the Workshop on September 27, 2014, Prof. Tam gave an introduction to the general situation of the Nepalis in Hong Kong. It was followed by a talk by Prof. Lisa Leung, Cultural Studies Department, Lingnan University. Based on her recent publication Understanding South Asian Minorities in Hong Kong (2014 Hong Kong University Press) and her research done over the years, Prof. Leung discussed  issues of  employment of South Asians, especially the Nepalis, in Hong Kong.

According to the Population Census, the Chinese make up 93.6% of the total population in Hong Kong. Among ethnic minorities, the biggest groups consisted of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, who mainly came from Indonesia and the Philippines. The Nepalis only consist 2% of the minority population ,  and therefore are the minority of minorities.

Prof. Leung discussing with Workshop participants
Yet, Nepalis helped shape Hong Kong’s colonial history. A large portion of Nepalis in Hong Kong are descendants of the Gurkhas or ex-Gurkhas. Gurkha soldiers have been fighting for the British Army7. Their reputed bravery, loyalty, and fierceness led the British colonial government to deploy them at the Chinese borders to deter increasing illegal immigrants entering Hong Kong.

The Nepalis stationed in Hong Kong until the Handover in 1997, and had resided in the barracks in Jordan, Sek Kong, Yuen Long, and Wan Chai. . After the Handover, some of the Gurkhas remained in Hong Kong as residents, while others moved to Malaysia and Britain, and some returned to Nepal. For those who stayed in Hong Kong, most were faced with a lack of upward social mobility, because with very limited Chinese language proficiency and other job-related skills, a lot of ex-Gurkhas could only find semi-skilled or non-skilled work. Because of their military background, they were commonly employed as security guards, watchmen e and construction workers. Nepali women, on the other hand, mostly worked in the catering and hospitality sector because of a perceived sexual division of labor..

Prof . Leung receiving a souvenir from Prof. Tam
Some Nepalis started their own businesses, mostly in the Yau Tsim Mong area, especially in Jordan and Tsim Sha Tsui. An interesting observation is that in these shops the owners usually stayed in the store in most of the opening hours, and on the name plaques of the store one usually finds the Nepali name and phone number of the store. These measures were intended to assure customers that the store was owned by a Nepali, and the goods were authentically ethnic. Other than grocery stores, computer cafés and beauty/hair salons were also popular business choices. In one of the computer cafés in Jordan where Prof. Leung visited for her field work, she found that it was also a nursery where Nepali parents would drop off their kids when they went to work. Prof. Leung suggested that these commercial spaces indeed served multiple purposes. This reflect how commercial spaces were also ethnic communal spaces, allowing the Nepalis in diaspora to find a sense of belonging and security.

Monday, November 24, 2014

[Upcoming Seminar] Qualitative Studies in Medicine and Health Research: Where Are We Now?

Qualitative Studies in Medicine and Health Research: Where Are We Now?

Speaker: Carmen WONG
(Assistant Professor, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 28 November, 2014  
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


This talk will discuss current works of health systems and health seeking behaviour and the doctor-patient relationship. The session presents a synopsis of studies of contraceptive practices in Indonesian maids, mainland migrant women health priorities and health seeking behaviour and benzodiazepine users perceptions to medication in Hong Kong. Discussion will explore the potential for further collaborations and developments.


Seminar Poster

Friday, November 21, 2014

We've Started Accepting Applications for MA Programmes 2015-16!

Postgraduate Programme Poster
Here is some brief application information of the MA programmes of the Department of Anthropology at CUHK. For more details please visit the Department's homepage.

Programme Overview
The goal of the programme is to teach students the basic theories and methods of social and cultural anthropology and to give them a broad understanding of anthropology's different topics. Students will learn to develop their abilities of critical, independent and creative thinking in analyzing contemporary social and political issues, and understanding the diversity of human cultures and societies.
A key feature and major advantage of the Programme is that students are able to take courses that fit their background and interest. For example, foreign students can concentrate on Chinese society and culture, while students working in museums can concentrate on the anthropology of tourism, museums, archaeology, and other areas relevant to their work. 

Who Should Apply
The M.A. Programme is designed for people who have or have not majored in anthropology but wish to receive a formal education in the discipline. Work experience is desirable which allows students to relate coursework to their profession. Candidates with a strong background in social sciences may wish to concentrate on one of the Department's specializations such as the Anthropology of East Asia or Ethnicity and Identity. 

Information Session
Date: 13 December 2014 (Sat)
Time: 2:00pm
Venue: Room 306, Esther Lee Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Registration: Please click here

Application Information
Application method: Graduate School Online Application (start from 3 Nov 2014).
Application deadline: 31 March 2015 (Rolling admission will start from February 2015.)

Tuition Fee
HK$90,000 per annum (full-time); 
HK$45,000 per annum (part-time)

Telephone: (852) 3943-7670 / 3943-7677

For the Mphil / PhD programmes 2015-2016, please refer to our earlier blog post.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Free Music Guide - Pong Cheung's environmental protection project in Hong Kong Discovery vol.85

Photo Credit: Free Music Guide
Pong Cheung (B.A. '14) and his fellow teammates have formed an instrumental band to join the The Antarctica, Arctic, Mighty Rovers 2014-2015. The "Free Music Guide" project is combining the concept of "environmental protection" and "street performance". To promote and encourage recycling, the band expects the audience to show appreciation by giving them trash instead of paying cash.

Photo Credit: Free Music Guide
If you would like to know more about the project or how Pong, as an anthropology graduate, thinks about environmental protection, full article is available in the Hong Kong Discovery vol.85 ($28, details).

For Pong's "Free Music Guide" project, please visit their facebook page.

For the details of "The Antarctica, Arctic, Mighty Rovers 2014-2015", please visit the event homepage.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

[In the Press] Professor Sidney C. H. Cheung's book in Weekend Weekly


Professor Sidney C. H. Cheung's new book “Wetland Tourism in Four Seasons: Perspectives from landscape, foodways and community lifestyles has been mentioned in the latest issue of "Weekend Weekly".


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[Indian Culture Workshop 2013-2014] Field Trip: In Search of Indianness in Tsim Sha Tsui

The Multiculturalism in Action: Indian Cultural Workshop went on a field trip in Tsim Sha Tsui on May 28, 2014, to have an Indian day out and be immersed in Indian atmosphere.

Why Tsim Sha Tsui

Tsim Sha Tsui has been one of the centers of activities for South Asian migrants in Hong Kong. Indians tailors, grocers, restaurateurs, jewelers, traders, and their families have lived and have organized their religious activities here since the 19th century. To many Hongkongers, Indian shopkeepers and their multi-purpose retail stores in older shopping centers like Mirador and Chungking Mansions are a local institution.

First stop: Jain Temple with Guruji Nirmal Sagar

Inside the Jain Temple.
Jainism is one of the oldest religions in India. In Hong Kong, the Jains are a small community of 800. With their devotion to the religion, three temples have been established through the years, including the one on Granville Road, which we visited this time.

Guruji Nirmal Sagar gave us a brief introduction to the religion. He told us that Jainism preaches ahimsa (non-violence) and equality among all life forms. Every human is pure and has the capacity to become god. While this is similar to Buddhism, to date there are no Chinese Jains. It is because Jains do not actively seek to convert non-believers, though they would be happy to answer questions from them. The Jains believe the most important part of a person is the inside - if they believe in Jainism, they are Jain. This also explains why there is no baptism ceremony in Jainism, even for Indian believers.

During our Saturday visit, we saw quite a lot of children in the temple, and , their mothers were teaching them how to pray and to make offerings. The priest said mothers are the children’s first religious teachers; when they grow up, they will study with the priest to learn about the teachings. We also observed that the devotees would go around a small altar three times in clockwise direction. The priest explained that the three circular routes signify right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct, which are the three essential virtues for Jains. As they walk, they recognize their mortal beginning and the existence of hell, and most importantly pray for good virtues that will liberate them from the cycle of causality.

Second stop: Indian vegetarian lunch with guest Ms. Jackie Law, BA (Business Studies), 6-year Kuchipudi Dancer

Hari Om teaching kuchipudi dance in the dance studio.
We went to one of the numerous Indian restaurants in Tsim Sha TsuiThe vegetarian restaurant was filled with customers during lunchtime. We were impressed with the variety of dishes which originated from different regions of India and began to appreciate the tasty and healthy vegetarian food.

We were also grateful to have a guest to share her experience with us, as a Chinese individual learning Indian culture. Ms. Jackie Law has learned Indian classical dance for seven years. She had learnt other dance forms like hip-hop before, but she found a great sense of connection in kuchipudi dance, which she learned at a gym in Mongkok, under the guru Hari Om.

Kuchipudi is an ancient dance form that began as devotional dance dramas offered to the gods and a way to communicate Hindi mythology to the audience. Today it flourishes all over South East India. Jackie told us that doing kuchipudi was a spiritual journey - every lesson would begin with chanting and prayers, and the dance itself was like meditation.  She recounted an extraordinary episode in a dance lesson, in which she felt she entered another dimension in which there was no sense of time and space. This transcendental experience gave her a profound sense of comfort as in a religious trance.

Jackie also learned about the teacher-student relationship in Indian culture in her study of kuchipudi. She found that the identity of a student goes beyond learning how to dance, as the student is expected to take after aspects of the teacher’s worldview. For example, they would wear Indian costumes rather than gym wear in the dance class, and they should only use the ankle bells blessed by their guru. This is in line with the guru-shishya tradition in which the student gradually masters the knowledge embodied by the teacher through commitment, devotion and obedience. 

Third stop: Mirador and Chungking Mansions

Both Mirador and Chungking Mansions have long been popular shopping centers for South Asian products. On both first and second levels of the two buildings, it was easy to find retail and wholesale shops owned by Indians, Pakistanis,  and West Africans, amidst Chinese stores. We saw mobile phone and phone card stores, as well as money changers. We checked out eateries that sold various regional cuisines, including masala tea and samosa. We explored a supermarket that sold Indian supplies, from bags of roti flour and bastami rice, to Alphonso mangoes and ayurvedic toothpaste, to Diwali streamers and Maggi noodles. Different types of Indian daily necessities piled all the way up to the ceiling, and customers streamed in and out of the shop via the narrow corridors between the shelves. It is an understatement to say that these two shopping centers have become a social center for South Asian minorities. 

Jackie took us to the second floor of Mirador Mansions where her Pakistani tailor’s shop is located. She always went there to make-to-order her Indian dresses and dance costumes. The third generation owner Mr. Amjid Siddique said the store is a family business, just like many other stores in the building.

In this field trip, we came away with the feeling that Indian culture has blended into local society in different aspects like food, religion, business, and art. Indian individuals and families in Hong Kong - whether they are high-profile business tycoons, low-profile priests, IT professionals, housewives, English teachers or yoga gurus - they have made Hong Kong their home for generations. Indians are truly part of our community, and we should embrace their culture as part of our local heritage.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[Friday Seminar Recap] Reading Disaster Response in International Comparative Perspectives — Japan, China and New Zealand

Reading Disaster Response in International Comparative Perspectives — Japan, China and New Zealand

Speaker: Junko OTANI  
(Regional Director, East Asian Center for Academic Initiatives (OU Shanghai Office) &
 Associate Professor, Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University, Japan )
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 17 October, 2014  
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

The seminar
Professor Otani’s talk focused on the post-earthquake recovery process in Christchurch with comparative perspectives of Japanese and Chinese experiences, especially the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and 2013 Wenchuan Earthquakes. Professor Otani’s research is based on the public health survey, media data and the ethnographic field notes which include the observation and interviews.

Dr. Junko OTANI
The Christchurch earthquake occurred on 22 February 2011 and is one of the major natural catastrophes from 1980-2012. The earthquake caused 185 deaths and significant physical damage. Jobs in most fields except the construction industry shrank after the earthquake. The earthquake also accelerated the budget cut for the universities; many departments in the humanities and social science faculties were closed in the University of Canterbury.

Like the Japanese and Chinese governments, the New Zealand government provided various kinds of support, including building temporary schools, rebuilding infrastructure, encouraging the citizen to move to other cities with more job opportunities, developing disaster related business, e.g. disaster tourism, and other necessary public services.

The attendants
One of the major differences between the New Zealand government and the Japanese and Chinese governments is the housing arrangement. After the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the Japanese government provided free temporary housing, like the shelter and the public reconstruction housing, for the victims. As insurance is common in New Zealand, instead of using public housing, the victims lived in their friends’ home or used the compensation to rent housing at a market price.

Monday, November 10, 2014

[Upcoming Seminar] Exploring Accounts of Chinese Air Pollution

Exploring Accounts of Chinese Air Pollution

Speaker: Alex COCKAIN  
(Teaching Fellow, Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 14 November, 2014  
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


This paper explores pictures of Shanghai residents emerging through various accounts of a weekend in December 2013 when the city experienced high levels of air pollution. Although this paper deals significantly with texts appearing in foreign media, I attempt to focus more concertedly upon texts appearing on weixin (a micromessaging service which also permits sharing of photographs and videos) and commentary generated by virtue of semi-structured interviews and being there at the time. My aim is not so much to engage with issues regarding what Shanghai residents “really feel” about air pollution (although I do, perhaps inadvertently, seem to impose a definitive reading) but rather to explore how journalists, residents and myself all seem to be engaged in constructing rhetorical performances determined by the need to tell an effective story.



Friday, November 7, 2014

[Upcoming Event] Indian cultural performance concert

Concert Poster
Free Concert!

Indian Singer Rupankar will visit HK and performed on NOV 22. 

The concert is co-hosted by the Hong Kong Bengali Association and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 

We have limited quotas! 
Reserve your seats at with Ms. Lee before Nov. 20.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[Friday Seminar Recap] Killing the Blues: Male Nostalgia and Paid Sex in Southern China

Killing the Blues: Male Nostalgia and Paid Sex in Southern China

Speaker: Kevin MING 
(Center Associate, Asian Studies Center, University Center for International Studies, University of Pittsburgh)
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 10 October, 2014  
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

The seminar
Dr. Ming’s talk discussed nostalgic consumption among mostly older men paying for sex in southern China.

Dr. Ming quoted from Kathleen Stewart: “the present rises before us in the ultra vivid mode of fascination- a fascination that is experienced as a loss, an unreality (or what Baudrillard [1981] calls "hyperreality"). In a world of loss and unreality, nostalgia rises to importance as "the phantasmal, parodic rehabilitation of all lost frames of reference.”

D. Kevin Ming 
When Maoist nostalgia is mobilized at present, it is forward looking and productive nostalgia, because the state claims the state exists to “serve the people” (為人民服務). People use these kinds of nostalgic claims about the relationship between the state and the people, to make very contemporary and practical demands on the state.

The nostalgia Dr. Ming referred to in the talk was not a productive nostalgia. Instead, it is a rear guard nostalgic masculinity, which attempts to hold on to the masculinity that the circumstances no longer support.

The attendants
 Dr. Ming’s primary ethnographic focus is less successful men in their 50s or 60s in the context of KTV space. They express their blue and sensitivity in their performative act of singing melancholic or romantic songs from the 90s and rehearsing tragic stories of failed romance. Dr. Ming explained the loss he referred to is a “slow wearing away” of something that these man are trying to hold on to.

Dr. Ming then shared his field data collected from the male clients and working women he met in the Haizhu Square and in hair salons (髮廊). From the stories, Dr. Ming showed us the actual interaction between the clients and working women, the daily life and emotional strategies of the salon working women and how the working women interpret their work. In the Q&A, Dr. Ming also shared his experience on how he developed the network to conduct this research.

Monday, November 3, 2014

[Upcoming Seminar] On Cross-Cultural Diffusion: The Chinese Elements Adopted by Khmer Architectural Craftsmen in Angkor, Cambodian

On Cross-Cultural Diffusion: The Chinese Elements Adopted by Khmer Architectural Craftsmen in Angkor, Cambodian

Speaker: Sharon WONG  
(Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 7 November, 2014  
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


Chinese influence is usually portrayed as a straightforward case of one-way cultural diffusion, and the Khmer Empire is treated as a backward region, a part of China or India. Architectural ceramics serve as a symbol of official power in ancient times. It is a useful tool for researchers to analyze the intersection of official exchange between Khmer and Chinese polities during the ninth to fourteenth centuries. This seminar will introduce the concept of technological choices on the study of Chinese elements adopted by Khmer architectural craftsmen in Angkor that shed light on our imagery of cross-cultural exchange in the past.