Friday, February 26, 2016

Upcoming Seminars by Prof. Tamara Jacka

Translocal peasant family reproduction and agrarian change in China: toward an analytical framework

Speaker: Tamara Jacka (Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University) 
Date: 9 March 2016 (Wed) 
Time: 10:30am-11:45am 
Venue: Room 422, Sino Building, CUHK

Since the 1980s, peasant families in China, as elsewhere in developing Asia, have been engaging in translocal economic activities, with some members migrating out of the village in search of employment in urban industry and services, while others maintain a small landholding, undertake domestic work, and care for dependants. Scholars sometimes note that these translocal strategies have advantages for the reproduction of both peasant families and capital. Beyond these brief mentions, however, there has been strikingly little attention to social reproduction in the literature on agrarian change in China, or indeed elsewhere in Asia. This paper seeks to address this lacuna, advancing an analytical framework for understanding agrarian change, which centres on social reproduction, specifically translocal peasant family reproduction. The framework highlights, in particular, the connections between peasant families’ changing aspirations for reproduction and the fluid, translocal strategies they adopt to meet those aspirations; changing patterns of reproductive work, especially care-work; and shifting social relations and patterns of social differentiation, both between peasant families and within them. In developing this new framework, the paper refers to a village case study in central China, and draws on a critique of the existing ‘livelihoods perspective,’ and approaches focusing on ‘global householding,’ and class reproduction and the pursuit of ‘distinction'.

Register at:


Improving women’s substantive representation: A comparison of theoretic determinants and empirical evidence from Chinese villages

Speaker: Tamara Jacka (Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University) 
Date: 10 March 2016 (Wed) 
Time: 10:30am-12:30pm 
Venue: Lecture Theatre B5, Ho Tim Building, CUHK

Feminist scholars have recently questioned the premise that women ‘naturally’ best represent women politically. Nevertheless, that premise continues to inform efforts to increase women’s descriptive political representation in order to ensure that women’s views and needs are substantively reflected in governance. For example, China, an authoritarian state where, however, village elections and ‘self-government’ are enshrined in law, has sought to increase women’s representation in rural government through affirmative actions, including mentoring, quotas, and reserved seats for women on village committees. These recent efforts to boost the descriptive representation of women (DRW) may have distracted attention from other cultural, political and economic institutions and practices that also might affect the substantive representation of women (SRW). Indeed, it is possible that some affirmative actions aimed at increasing DRW might be less effective in improving SRW than other practices, and might even adversely affect SRW. This article theoretically compares factors that have the potential to affect DRW and SRW, and empirically investigates which of these are conducive to SRW in Chinese village governance. Specifically, we compare eight villages to investigate whether SRW is most improved by institutions and practices hinging on gender differentiation (gender differentiated roles and gender affirmative actions) or by other political or economic factors (democratic procedures and fiscal institutions). Across these case studies, we find that the institutionalisation of democracy, along with village wealth and the nature of the production regime, are more important determinants of SRW than are gender differentiation or affirmative actions.

Register at:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

[Event] FUN with Interculturalism

FUN with Interculturalism, a community outreach project directed by Prof. Maria Tam, will have its 4th event on this coming Saturday (27 February) at SKH St. Joseph’s Church and Social Center! The event will last from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm. There will be an Exhibition on South Asian Communities in Hong Kong, kabaddi, Indian and Nepali dance, Pakistani games…and more!

Center's address: 
SKH St. Joseph's Church and Social Centre
83A Ng Ka Tsuen, Kam Sheung Road, Yuen Long
Public transportation:
Use Exit C of Kam Sheung Road West Rail Station to reach the Public Transport Interchange. Then: 
1) Take KMB Route 64K, and get off at San Ma Lo Pat Heung (
新馬路) or; 
2) Take Minibus Route 78, and directly tell the drive the center's name and get off there.

Have a review if you have missed our previous event:

Looking forward to seeing you all! ;)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] Agents of Allah: Chinese Muslim Interpreters in Global Trade

Agents of Allah: Chinese Muslim Interpreters in Global Trade

Speaker: XIANG Biao (Visiting Professor, HKIHSS, The University of Hong Kong, and Professor of Social Anthropology, Institute of Social & Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford)
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 26 Feb 2016 (Friday)
Venue: Lecture Theatre 2, Mong Man Wai Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


The large number of migrant traders from the Islamic world to China are responsible for a major part of China’s exports. They are facilitated by thousands Muslim interpreters between Arabic and Chinese in major trading cities like Guangzhou and Yiwu. Most of the interpreters came from the countryside or small cities in the northwest, had an education level of junior high school or below. Many attended masjid/madrasas affiliated with Mosques or privately-run Arabic language schools. Apart from bridging the language gap, they also shoulder considerable financial risks: some of them would have to compensate the Chinese suppliers if the foreign clients fail to pay in the end. The slowdown of the global economy and the political instability in the Middle East since 2011 rendered their position particularly vulnerable. Based on field research in Zhejiang and Guangdong, this talk examines how the translators perceive their roles in international trade and national development, and their sense of hope and identity.


(A light lunch will be served at 12:30 pm. First come first served.)

Friday, February 19, 2016

4th Issue of Déjà Lu

The fourth issue of Déjà Lu has just been published! To read the whole issue, please go to

A screencap of Déjà Lu at WCAA website

Deja Lu is a journal of reprints from the world's anthropological journals--the best paper selected by the editors of different anthropological journals. This issue has 35 articles, all free for the reading.  It is designed to put the world's different anthropologies in different societies into a common forum.

Please have a look!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

[Faculty Colloquium talk] From Multiculturalism to Interculturalism: A Journey in Ethnic Relations Research-in-action

The Faculty of Arts will be having its first Faculty colloquium talk (Term 2, 2015-16), to be given by Prof. Tam Siumi, Maria, on 26 February, 2016 (Friday)The talk will be conducted in EnglishThe talk aims to facilitate dialogue and collaboration across disciplines.  All are welcome.  Details of the event are as follows:

From Multiculturalism to Interculturalism: A Journey in Ethnic Relations Research-in-action
Arts and Humanities Hub, G24, G/F, Fung King Hey Building
4 – 6 pm, 26 February, 2016 (Friday)

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.

The Faculty Colloquium is intended to provide a forum for colleagues of the faculty to learn more about each other's research in the hope of facilitating cross-disciplinary exchange and collaboration.

For enquiry, please contact the Faculty Office of Arts at 3943 7107.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

[HKAS Seminar] “Keep Catwalking:” Education and Beauty Pageants of Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

Title: “Keep Catwalking:” Education and Beauty Pageants of Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers in Hong Kong
Speaker: Chen Ju-chen (Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong) 
Date and time: 25 February 2016, 7:00 p.m.
Venue: Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, Hong Kong Museum of History, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui


Domestic helpers in Hong Kong are often homogenized, exoticized, and stigmatized as people who live without purpose beyond remitting money home. Ethnographic research shows that, on Sundays, foreign domestic helpers often actively juggle personal chores, association board meetings, birthday parties, church volunteer work, and beauty pageants. This talk addresses a puzzling phenomenon: the motivation behind active participation in costly and time-consuming beauty pageants and, therefore, getting little rest on the designated “rest days.” Focusing on beauty pageant participations, this talk argues that similarly baffling individual aspirations – such as college education and working overseas as a maid – need to be understood within a much broader context of the Philippine’s class structure, colonial cultural legacy, discourse of modernization and global capitalist institutions.

Following the talk, you are invited to a self-paying dinner with the speaker.

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

Monday, February 15, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] Utopian Communities: Making Better Worlds

Utopian Communities: Making Better Worlds

Speaker: Martin BOEWE (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 19 Feb 2016 (Friday)  
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


Members of utopian communities are engaged in transformation projects and have chosen the utopian community as a strategic place from which to improve their world. Three communities are presented in ethnographic detail: 1) Life Chanyuan in China, which has attempted to promote free-love and communism as a short-cut to heaven but was finally closed down by the state, 2) Christiania in Denmark, a political community standing for consensus democracy, the fight for freedom and urban space for all, a massive market for hashish, and a counter-cultural entertainment experience for visitors, and 3) Damanhur, the Italian esoteric community, whose members see themselves as warriors on a mission to rescue humankind. The analysis shows that all these utopian communities act as distorted mirrors of their societies and are historically specific to them. They all have a message to their respective society about how life could be better.


(A light lunch will be served at 12:30 pm. First come first served.)

Friday, February 12, 2016

[Multiculturalism in Action 2015-2016] Sharing at Teacher’s Centre on 9 January, 2016

On 9 January 2016, Prof. Maria Tam, Director of the Multiculturalism in Action Project, gave a talk co-organized by The Graduate Association of Colleges of Education and the Hong Kong Teacher’s Centre. The talk focused on intercultural education in Hong Kong, in which she shared her experience in organizing the Multiculturalism in Action Project since 2013. This project hopes to provide more objective information on and holistic understanding of South Asians communities and their contributions in Hong Kong, through a series of train-the-trainers program and outreach activities. This year, the Project focuses on the Pakistani culture and works with members of the community to make positive changes, especially through bridging the Chinese and Pakistani communities in Hong Kong. Feedback collected from the previous Workshops on Indian and Nepali culture showed that multimedia presentations were useful in increasing the cultural sensitivity of students in mainstream secondary schools, who knew little about their South Asian schoolmates or neighborhoods.

Prof. Tam sharing the data collected from secondary schools

In addition, the community-outreach project “FUN with Interculturalism” was introduced, as a case to show how intercultural education can be done at school. This program, funded by the Equal Opportunities Commission, aims to promote mutual understanding and appreciation among different ethnic groups. It includes an exhibition on South Asian Communities in Hong Kong as well as hands-on kabaddi experience. Dr. Tang Wai Man, our kabaddi instructor, spoke on the historical and cultural aspects of kabaddi, and then led the teachers in a game of kabaddi. It was a fun and meaningful afternoon for the teachers and the Multiculturalism in Action Team, during which much sharing and discussion on intercultural education took place. 

Teachers and student helpers practicing kabaddi

Teachers reading the Exhibition on South Asian Communities in Hong Kong

Thursday, February 11, 2016

[Multiculturalism in Action 2015-2016] FUN with Interculturalism in Yuen Long

FUN with Interculturalism, a community outreach project launched by the Multiculturalism in Action Project this year, co-organized the Art Connection Carnival on 24 January, 2016. The event was held in Yuen Long Catholic Secondary School, and apart from the volunteers from different universities, we were joined by Miss Tang Pui Ching and Pakistani students from the Salesians of Don Bosco Ng Siu Mui Secondary School. The event was organized by Yuen Long Town Hall Support Service Centre for Ethnic Minorities. Over ten booths from different organizations were present. They included the Equal Opportunities Commission, ICAC, and Castle Peak Hospital, among others. Through games and activities such as henna painting, sand bottle handicraft, balloon twisting, Chinese calligraphy, and board games, the different organizations jointly promoted the messages of ethnic integration and appreciation of cultural diversity.

(First row, from right) Dr. Tang Wai Man, Prof. Maria Tam, Miss Tang Pui Ching, Mr. Tan Nan, and volunteers

Our Exhibition on South Asian Communities in Hong Kong with English and Chinese explanations from our docents was well received. Moreover, a kabaddi session was held by our kabaddi instructors, Dr. Tang Wai Man and Mr. Tan Nan. The audience was invited to take part in this exciting South Asian sport. Both kids and adults from different ethnic origins had a great time!

Our docents explaining the exhibition to audience
Having fun with kabaddi
Our booth

There was also a full program of performance, ranging from band songs to Nepali dance; as well, singers presented wonderful pop and folk songs. 

Gurung dance performance

Despite the freezingly cold weather, the event was a hit! Thank you to all volunteers who helped to make this event a success!

Prof. Tam presenting the flag to Ms. Ruth Kong of Yuen Long Town Hall, our co-organizer

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Friday Seminars Schedule (Spring 2016)

The Friday seminars schedule of this semester is out. Don't forget to mark down the dates on your calendar! 

Seminars in this semester will take place at 1:00P.M.–2:30P.M. at Room 401, Humanities Building, CUHK. All interested are welcome!

Friday Seminars (Spring 2016)