Thursday, October 29, 2015

[Pakistani Culture Workshop] Policy and Legal Issues Regarding Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong

Multiculturalism in Action 2015-16
Pakistani Culture Workshop: Making a Change for the Better

Session 2: Policy and Legal Issues Regarding Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong

Ms. Pearl Tang and Ms. Niru Vishwanath
(Ethnic Minorities Unit, Equal Opportunities Commission)

On 10 October 2015, Multiculturalism in Action Project visited the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), to learn about the policies and institutional efforts in fighting race discrimination in Hong Kong. 

What image(s) can you see? A duck or a rabbit? Is it right, or wrong, if we see the picture one way or the other?

Ms. Niru Vishwanath first invited us to think about the concept of “being open-minded” as a key to the creation of a multicultural environment in Hong Kong as it allowed us to see others’ perspectives. “Stereotypes” is another big word in ethnic relations, as it led to assumptions and discriminations which should be avoided.

If you were the man in the orange T-shirt and did not understand Cantonese, what would you feel when you saw a group of people talking about you?

Human psychology, Ms. Vishwanath said, usually made us feel excluded when we could not understand the local language. This role play helped us to feel and rethink why misunderstandings occur.   

The second speaker, Ms. Pearl Tang discussed the Racial Discrimination Ordinance (RDO), the role of EOC in executing the Ordinance as well as some case studies.  

The RDO has come into operation since 10 July 2009, which aims to protect people from being discriminated against based on their race / colour / descent / nation or ethnic origin. According to Ms. Tang, religious and linguistic groups were not included in the RDO, except the Sikhs who were defined as an ethnic group based on case law. Ms. Tang explained that as a statutory body, EOC has handled complaints, as well as carried out investigation and conciliation. EOC also offers legal assistance if conciliations fail.

One of the challenges about race discrimination, as mentioned by Ms. Tang, was the issue of empowerment among the ethnic minorities. The number of enquiries and complaints regarding race discrimination has remained the lowest compared with other anti-discrimination laws. Not only because RDO was the latest ordinance, but also because ethnic minorities seldom complained since their first priority was to find a job to secure their livelihood in Hong Kong.

Ms. Tang giving a presentation

Some of the participants questioned the effectiveness of complaints and conciliation process as these were seen to be passive action in combating race discrimination. Ms. Tang admitted that while EOC depended on people bringing complaints forward, to a certain extent it has helped to fight discrimination. EOC, she explained, was an advisory body which helped to facilitate conciliations, but it was not their authority to give orders to people on what they should do.

Q and A session

In the Q and A session, Ms. Tang and Ms. Vishwanath discussed some discriminatory cases found in real-life situations, giving examples such as opening bank accounts, renting flats, applying for public housing, and seeking medical services. To deal with these problems, EOC provided training service for the public and private sectors, including provision of guidelines on how to comply with the anti-discrimination ordinances, and how to promote racial equality. Ms. Tang shared with us that one of challenges in Hong Kong was that though many companies were aware of the laws, they seldom made extra efforts to do more than what the laws required.  

This seminar ended with a second role play that highlighted the importance of communication. Dialogues should be built before imposing your own assumptions about people from different cultural backgrounds.

Participants acted as a Muslim employee and a Chinese employer to highlight the importance of communication.

Lastly, Prof. Tam, Director of the Multiculturalism in Action Project, reminded participants that legal rights were an important part of social and cultural harmony. Although Hong Kong people have got more used to a more culturally diverse society, as we all have minority neighbors or schoolmates etc., we still need to be much more proactive in tackling discrimination problems. 

(From left) Ms. Niru Vishwanath, Ms. Pearl Tang, Mr. Madhav Khanal and Prof. Tam.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

[Upcoming Seminar] Hui and Uyghurs: A Short Comparative Study

Hui and Uyghurs: A Short Comparative Study

Speaker: Jean BERLIE
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 30 Oct 2015 (Friday)  
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK 


The Hui and Uyghur are an essential ethnological topic to try to understand what is a national minority (shaoshu minzu 少數民族). This presentation will be a very simple introduction on the Hui in Yunnan and a discussion of how the Uyghur minority constitute a challenge for China in the framework of Cultural Sinicization (hanhua 汉化). It will also discuss how Sufism in China, a complex subject, serves as a positive synthesis in this field of investigation.

Jean Berlie (or Jean A. Berlie) (Ph D University of Paris, EHSS) studied anthropology with Georges Condominas. For two decades since 1986, he conducted research on the Dai and Hui in China with the Academy of Social Sciences of Yunnan. He was Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong between 1991-2012. He was a researcher with the Cultural Institute of Macau from 1995-2000. He has visited more than 100 countries and speaks more than 15 languages. Amongst his many publications are two books (Islam in China, 2004; Burmanization of Myanmar’s Muslims, 2008) and articles on Islam.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Summer Internship 2015

Every year, the Department of Anthropology collaborates with other institutions to offer local and overseas internship opportunities to our students. It is hoped that students,through taking up internships, can explore their interest and gain invaluable field experience.

This summer, 10 students of our department and 1 student minoring in our programme had been offered the opportunity to work as interns at the Antiquities and Monuments OfficeDr. Sun Yat-sen Museum, Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Maritime Museumthe Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at University of Cambridge, UK, and the Nicholson Museum at The University of Sydney, Australia.

To read students' sharing on their internship experience, please go to our Department's website:

Monday, October 26, 2015

[Announcement] Department E-Newsletter (Fall 2015)

The E-Newsletter (Fall 2015) of Department of Anthropology has been published. Click here to catch up with us on our latest news, student activities, department events and alumni updates. 

If you have any suggestions, comments or news to share with our subscribers, please feel free to contact Ms. Esther Chok at We want to hear from you!

Department's E-Newsletter (Fall 2015)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

We've Started Accepting Applications for MPhil/PhD Programmes 2016-17!

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. Sealing CHENG

Application Deadline:
1 December 2015, GMT+8 12:00 Noon
For applicants who apply for PhD programme through the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS)

31 January 2016
For applicants who apply for MPhil/PhD programme directly with CUHK (i.e. non-HKPFS applicants)

Monday, October 19, 2015

[HKAS Seminar] Urban Volunteers in Rural China: Imagining the Nation, Encountering the Other, Transforming the Self

Title: Urban Volunteers in Rural China: Imagining the Nation, Encountering the Other, Transforming the Self
Speaker: David Palmer (Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong
Date and time: 29 October 2015, 7:00pm  
Venue: Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui


In the past decade, a growing number of urban Chinese, primarily university students and graduates, have gone to rural and ethnic minority regions of Western China to act as volunteer teachers in schools, for periods ranging from a few days to a few years. Based on interviews, field research and media narratives of volunteers, this talk will propose an anthropological analysis of this form of volunteering as an Othering encounter in which cosmopolitan and rustic, urban and rural, Han and ethnic minority identities are highlighted and negotiated. This Othering encounter is a process that involves multiple stages, beginning before the volunteers’ departure, unfolding during the period of service in the remote locale, and continuing after the return to urban life. Through this process, concerns with effecting lasting educational change are eclipsed by the frustrations and joys of engaging with local people and their realities. Volunteering becomes an experience of self-reflection and individual transformation; at the same time, it becomes a ritual of solidarity that enacts the unity of the Nation, dramatizing and reconciling the divisions between its people.

Dr. David A. Palmer is an Associate Professor and head of the department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong, which he joined in 2008. After completing his PhD in the Anthropology of Religion at the Institute for Advanced Research in Paris, he was the Eileen Barker Fellow in Religion and Contemporary Society at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and, from 2004 to 2008, director of the Hong Kong Centre of the French School of Asian Studies (Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient), at the Institute for Chinese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

For more information, please contact Stan Dyer on 9746 9537 or,, or

Thursday, October 15, 2015

[Upcoming Seminar] Fashion and Magical Capitalism

Fashion and Magical Capitalism

Speaker: Brian MOERAN
Time: 4:30 – 6:00 pm, 20 Oct 2015 (Tuesday)  
Venue: LT9 Yasumoto International Academic Park, Chung Chi College, CUHK 


This seminar presentation takes as its starting point questions like: How do contemporary fashion designers resemble Siberian shamans? Why are cosmetics advertisements structured like South Indian healing rituals? What are the links between celebrities, fame, and Trobriand Island kula ring exchanges? Or between fame, perfume, alchemy, and animistic practices in Siberia? In this talk, Professor Moeran argues that fashion―like many other forms of cultural production―makes use of “technologies of enchantment” to create a system that is in fact magical. He will take this argument one step further by suggesting that many others employed in different forms of capitalist endeavour (consultants, financial speculators, spin doctors, marketers, and so on) also use technologies of enchantment to persuade their audiences that what they are doing is entirely “rational”. In short, capitalism is itself in many ways a magical system.

Professor Brian Moeran is Professor of Business Anthropology at the Copenhagen Business School, and currently Visiting Professor and Course Coordinator of the Global Creative Industries Course, School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University Of Hong Kong. A social anthropologist by training, he has written widely on advertising, art and aesthetics, ceramics, fashion magazines and other media forms, primarily in Japan.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Multiculturalism in Action Workshop by Professor Maria Tam

With support from the Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (KPF). Prof. Maria Tam has organized a series of workshops entitled “Multiculturalism in Action” to enhance awareness of the ethnic and cultural diversity in Hong Kong.

This project has been highlighted in the eNewsletter (Issue 005, October 2015) of the Art Faculty. The article can be viewed here.

A screen-cap of the eNewsletter (Issue 005, October 2015) of the Faculty of Arts

This year, Multiculturalism in Action has launched its third workshop―Pakistani Culture Workshop: Making a Change for the Better―to continue the promotion of multiculturalism in Hong Kong. 

For enquiries and information, please contact Ms. Connie Lee at

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

[Pakistani Culture Workshop] The Pakistani Community in Hong Kong: An Overview

Multiculturalism in Action 2015-16
Pakistani Culture Workshop: Making a Change for the Better

Session 1: The Pakistani Community in Hong Kong: An Overview

Guest Speakers: 
Prof. Raees Baig (Social Work Department, CUHK)
Prof. Paul O’Connor (Sociology and Social Policy Department, Lingnan University)

What are the historical conditions that led to the coming of the Pakistani community to Hong Kong? Which social and cultural aspects do you know about your Pakistani neighbors? What identities has Hong Kong society given to the Pakistani community and why are they considered ethnic minorities?

The Multiculturalism in Action project, now in its third year, organized a public seminar entitled The Pakistani Community in Hong Kong: An Overview to help answer the above questions.

Prof. Paul O’Connor first presented a brief history of, and some cultural observations on the Pakistani community in Hong Kong. The earliest generation of South Asian Muslims arrived in Hong Kong with the British soldiers and merchants in 1848. They maintained distinct Islamic cultures through religious and culinary practices, as well as through playing cricket - which is still one of the most popular sports in South Asia. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, they became known as Pakistanis.

Although the Pakistanis have established themselves in Hong Kong for a long time, they are often stereotyped as poor, and portrayed in mainstream media as outsiders and criminals. Recent statistics, Prof. O’Connor argued, have shown that ethnic minorities in Hong Kong (especially the Pakistanis) were really a valuable source of workforce for Hong Kong society. While a lot of the Pakistani community remained in the lowest income bracket, Prof. O’Connor argued that income should not be the only criterion of defining poverty. He concluded that, what Hong Kong society should do is to embrace the ethnic minorities as they are part of Hong Kong.

During the break, participants of the seminar had the opportunity to taste some Pakistani-style food: mango juice, biscuits, samosas and kebabs. Our speakers and Pakistani guests helped to explain the meaning of “halal” and invited us to critically think about the relationship between food, health, and religion.

Workshop participants enjoying Pakistani cuisine during the break.

After the break, Prof. Raees Baig shared her views on some issues of social participation among ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Limited participation in social events, she argued, could be part of the reason why minorities were not accepted as full-fledged members of society.  

Prof. Baig then discussed the term “ethnic minority” which only started to be used after Hong Kong’s Handover in 1997 with the changes in the local political and social environment. She said we should re-think that why the South Asians were regarded as “ethnic minority”, while the Europeans were not given such a label. The incorporation of “ethnic minorities” into the social and political structure, she argued, was therefore a devaluation process- they were incorporated not because they were considered Hong Kong people, but because they were defined to belong to a special class that needed special care. She reminded us that we should be more critical as we analyze the positions and identities of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.    

Lastly, Prof. Baig pointed out that we should not generalize a particular group as if it was homogenous: within the Pakistani group, for example, there were differences among different genders, age groups, linguistic groups, religions, and social classes.

(First Row, from left) Pakistani guests, Prof. Tam, Prof. Baig, and Prof. O’Connor, together with participants of the Workshop.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

[Upcoming Seminar] Fluid Fields, Elusive Subjects, Exposed Ethnographers: Changing Spatialities of Engaged Scholarship in Transnational Migration

Fluid Fields, Elusive Subjects, Exposed Ethnographers: Changing Spatialities of Engaged Scholarship in Transnational Migration

Speaker: Murat ES
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 9 Oct 2015 (Friday) 
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


In this talk, Prof. Es will focus on the changing modes of interaction between ethnographers and their research participants in an age of accelerated mobility and sustained connectivity. He will draw on his experience of conducting multi-sited ethnographic research (Turkey and the Netherlands) on a politically sensitive subject (mosque organizations) to discuss the opportunities for, and challenges to ethical and engaged scholarship.

Prof. Murat Es is Assistant Professor in Urban Studies Programme/Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK. His work highlights the co-construction of urban spaces and identities through cross-cultural encounters forged by national and transnational mobilities. Murat has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands and Turkey with ethno-religious minority groups. His current research explores practices of citizenship, belonging, and urban development in Turkey and Hong Kong.