Tuesday, February 28, 2017

[Upcoming Seminar] Multiculturalism Reconsidered: A Theoretical Perspective on East Asia’s Reality

Title: Multiculturalism Reconsidered: A Theoretical Perspective on East Asia’s Reality
Speaker: Masaki TOSA (Professor, School of Asia 21, Kokushikan University)
Date and time: 3 March 2017, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Venue: Room 115, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


I have been engaged in a comparative study of multiculturalism in East Asia, particularly in six global cities including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, Seoul, and Tokyo. I will present the tentative results of my research and set forth a basic theoretical framework. My argument is that nationalism is a very important reference point to understand multiculturalism in East Asia. In order to discuss this in a compact way, I will rely on Liah Greenfeld's “nationalism trilogy.” 

Masaki Tosa is a Professor at the School of Asia 21, Kokushikan University, Japan, and Hon. Adjunct Professor at the Department of Anthropology, CUHK. He has been engaged in area studies of East Asia as a cultural anthropologist. His main areas of research include nationalism and globalization, pop culture, and multiculturalism.

All interested are welcome!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

[One-Day Workshop with Miriam Stark: Recap] Part II: Archaeology in Asia

One-Day Workshop with Miriam Stark
Part II: Archaeology in Asia

Speaker: Miriam STARK (Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)
Time: 3:30 – 6:30 pm, 17 Oct 2016 (Monday)
Venue: NAH401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

Text: Cheng Jing Saichia (Research Assistant)

Prof. Miriam Stark and the participants of the workshop

In October, the Department of Anthropology invited Prof. Miriam Stark to give a public lecture and two workshops on
archaeology. The second workshop ‘Archaeology in Asia’ was held in the afternoon of 17 Oct 2016.

At the beginning of the workshop, Prof. Stark shared with the participants some recent archaeological discoveries in Southeast Asia. She highlighted the contributions of Southeast Asian archaeologists in questioning the existing human evolution hypothesis (the multiregional hypothesis and the out of Africa hypothesis) and the human migration in the Southeast Asia region throughout Pleistocene period. In particular, the ‘Flores Man’, found on the island of Flores in Indonesia, has been one of the important contributions to world archaeology made by the Southeast Asian archaeologists.

Apart from human evolution, Prof. Stark also talked about the useful findings of these archaeologists in tracing the origin of potteries and food production. For instance, the discovery of a historical pottery —— the production of which dates back to 1200 YBP —— has challenged the previous understanding about the origin of potteries and agriculture. Furthermore, early cultivation and plant domestication evidence found in Southeast Asia have assured the importance of archaeological work in Southeast Asia.

Prof. Stark emphasized that there is a lack of concern on Asian archaeology. There are insufficient archaeologists working in some of the Asia regions such as ‘North Barbarian’ (Xiongnu Empire) and ‘Southern Barbarian’ (Lingnan Region). She also pointed out that world history education has undervalued the importance of Asia history. For example, the Han Dynasty was as significant as the state of Rome; however, it is seldom mentioned in world history education. 

Prof. Stark answering questions of the participants

In the workshop, Prof. Stark also introduced the history of Cambodia and Angkor, especially the Angkor Empire, which had been the world largest pre-industrial city. Last but not least, Prof. Stark shared her own archaeological experience in Cambodia and encouraged people to join the Cambodia archaeological field school in the future.

Suggested Readings:
Stark, M. T. (2015). Southeast Asia, Archaeology of. In J. D. Wright (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed., Vol. 23, pp. 63-69). Oxford: Elsevier.
Stark, M. T. (2014). The Archaeology of Early Modern South East Asia. In J. Symonds & V.-P. Herva (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Historical Archaeology. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

[One-Day Workshop with Miriam Stark: Recap] Part I: Materiality, the Social Lives of Things, and Kalinga Ethnoarchaeology

One-Day Workshop with Miriam Stark
Part I: Materiality, the Social Lives of Things, and Kalinga Ethnoarchaeology

Speaker: Miriam STARK (Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa) Time: 10:00am-1:00pm, 17 Oct 2016 (Monday)
Venue: NAH401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

Text: Viviane Liu (Part-time Research Assistant)

On October 17, the Anthropology Department invited Prof. Miriam Stark from the University of Hawaii to give two workshops to CUHK students. In the first part of the workshop, Prof. Stark talked about “Materiality, the Social Lives of Things, and Kalinga Ethnoarchaeology”.

Prof. Miriam Stark
Prof. Stark’s talk was largely based on her ethnographic dissertation and fieldwork done in the Philippines mainly in the 80’s and 90’s. She began her talk by providing participants a short introduction and background information on women potters who resided in a village known as Dalupa, on the Upper Pasil Basin in the Phillippines. Her admiration and respect for these women were strongly conveyed when she mentioned all the names of the women shown in her presentation.  

She provided us with an overview of the history of “Americanist” / “Euro-Americanist” approaches in terms of conceptual framework in archaeology and how these approaches / paradigms have shaped our thinking regarding materiality. Since the foundation of Americanist archaeology was initially based on ethnology and anthropology, in earlier times it was believed that humans and objects were intrinsically entwined with each other. This correlation was believed by the German-American anthropologist Frans Boaz (1858-1942)—the founding father of anthropology.

In fact, early American studies regarding the study of objects intensely focused on culture history and social anthropology. One of Boaz’s PhD students, Alfred Kroeber (1876-1960), an American cultural anthropologist from the University of Columbia, had created a diagram to map time and space variations by placing the same types of objects to mirror the chronological sequence. These diagrams are still very important foundations for current archaeologists and anthropologists to document linear sequences of objects in their studies.

From the 60’s and 70’s onwards, archaeologists no longer followed the culture history approaches and a new era of approaching materiality had emerged. Known as “Processual” or “New Archaeology”, prominent archaeologists of this “movement” were American archaeologist Lewis Binford (1931-2011) and British archaeologist Colin Renfrew (b. 1937). However, epistemological tensions arose when it came to accepting materiality being an indisputable part of archaeology. Conflicts occurred between archaeologists who were against materiality and those who accepted it. Those who opposed thought that this notion was deemed too humanistic, hermeneutic and phenomenological; it didn’t fit into their own definition of “science”, where empirical data and evidences were the only valid forms of methodology. Prof. Stark clearly had her own view when it came to the notion of materiality. She emphasized that archaeologists are materialists themselves and focus on work about historical materialism, Marxist’s notions of organization, production and change etc.  

Though the majority of archaeologists were concerned with style, they believed they should accept notions of materiality. They believed that they should start with style in order to study function, context and process. However, the “hyper-social science” people argued that studying style alone was not scientific enough, instead they should engage themselves with function; and the two should be separated. This whole notion/study is also known as “New Materialism” or “Evolutionary Archaeology”. But Prof. Stark believed that function and style should be studied together, especially when it came to the study of pottery. 

There are mainly two kinds of approaches to deal with materiality in contemporary archaeology: artefact biography as social history, and artefact biography as use-life. The former is based on Kopytoff’s essay on the cultural biography of objects: commoditization as process, as written in The Social Lives of Things (edited by Appadurai in 1986). Kopytoff believed that objects are divided into animate and inanimate objects. Objects with animosity contain agency, potency, which, for example can be seen in a Buddhist ceremony, by, for instance, dressing a Buddhist statute as if it is alive. Inanimate objects, on the other hand, are on the receiving end of the “animosity spectrum”. The belief in animosity in objects are respected and taken into consideration by anthropological archaeologists who focus on the Southeast Asia region in particular. Though many other archaeologists are dealing with less-animate (dead) objects, the study on “style” is still important to questions related to social boundaries, mobility, the production, maintenance, co-residence, interactions, imperialisms of various artefacts based heavily on style as a social process etc.

Using this approach can be problematic though when it comes to the study of tribal cultures and their material culture. Prof. Stark drew participants’ attention to her Kalinga project and argued why an ethnoarchaeology is a more suitable approach when we deal with tribal people and their objects. The Kalinga Ethnoarchaeoloical Project in the Philippines, founded in 1973 by William Longacre, who (together with Lewis Binford) believed that local people and the natives were neglected in the studies done by cultural historians. Longacre believed that he could trace the patterns of post-marital residence based on clusters of very similar ceramic styles (i.e. ceramic style variability). This could reflect the tradition and skills that was passed on by mothers or aunts to (newly-wed) women.  

A case study that Prof. Stark discussed in detail was Dalupa, a village on the mountains of the Upper Pasil Basin. She mainly studied the ceramic change (primarily focused on utilitarian wares) in Dalupa and another village throughout the 20th century. Prof. Stark explained that the women potters were poor and desperately needed more income. In order to expand their current markets, these women potters had to become more innovative by, for example, making candlestick holders and goblets. She also noted that ceramics in different parts of the river valleys looked different despite they were serving for similar functions.  

She then proceeded to show the importance of style, by pointing out that exquisite designs known as tinoktoks could be found everywhere such as blankets, ceramics and tattoo’s on females. She also mentioned that it was difficult to ignore the notion of style since these patterns were related to how the women made the potteries and were reflected in their vessel forms. This brought us back to her earlier statement that style and function should be studied together.

And this all came back to the notion of artefact biography as use-life. People might no longer think about patterns, but these were basically "encoded" in the potteries. Though the manufacturing process of ceramics seemed to be mechanic, the actual process was institutionalized and was different for every production group.

Prof. Stark concluded the workshop by saying that the uniqueness of ceramics did not only depend on the manufacturing process, style and function, but also on how these ceramics were being used and justified in public spaces through dances, which defended and re-enforced a village’s social boundaries, so that everyone knew where they came from.

Suggested readings:

Stark, M. Social Dimensions of Technical Choice in Kalinga Ceramic Traditions. In Material Meanings: Critical Approaches to Interpreting Material Culture, edited by E. Chilton, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, pp. 24-43

Stark, M., Bishop, R., Miksa, E. 2000. Ceramic Technology and Social Boundaries: Cultural Practices in Kalinga Clay Selection and Use. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 7(4), pp. 295-331.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

[Public Lecture] Trumping Sex: Scandals, Sleights of Hand, Politics

Trumping Sex: Scandals, Sleights of Hand, Politics

Speaker: Carole Vance (Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University)
Date and time: 17 March 2017, 12:30pm–2:15pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre 2, Mong Man Wai Building, CUHK

Speaker's Profile 

Carole S. Vance is a Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University in New York City, where she teaches and writes about sexuality, human rights, science, gender, and health. She coordinated the landmark Barnard Conference on Sexuality and edited Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality. Vance founded, and for ten years directed, Columbia’s innovative Program for the Study of Sexuality, Gender, Health, and Human Rights, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, which aimed to advance research, as well as facilitate exchange between researchers and advocates on sexual health and rights issues. Professor Vance has taught and mentored researchers and activists in many international settings, including India, Istanbul, the Netherlands, China, and Vietnam. Vance’s recent work focuses on trafficking into forced prostitution, issues of consent and state regulation, and the current initiatives to stop sexual violence on US campuses. Vance has received the David R. Kessler Award and the Simon and Gagnon Award for contributions to sexuality studies. She has been a member of many activist groups including No More Nice Girls and the Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force.

All interested are welcome!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

[Friday Seminar Recap] Post-Toyotist Affect: Japanese Workers Working On Neoliberal Reforms

Post-Toyotist Affect: Japanese Workers Working On Neoliberal Reforms

Speaker: Nana GAGNÉ (Assistant Professor, Department of Japanese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 10 Feb 2017 (Friday)
Venue: Room 115, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

The pursuits of stability and security have been the orientation of many Japanese and Japanese corporations since the post-war period. In recent decades, the state and corporations started to promote neoliberal reforms in an attempt to “correct” Japanese capitalism. To explore more about the neoliberal restructuring in Japan and its influence on Japanese employees, our department invited Prof. Nana Gagné to give a seminar on “Post-Toyotist Affect: Japanese Workers Working On Neoliberal Reforms” on Feb 10.

Prof. Nana Gagné
Prof. Gagné discussed two major issues in the talk——how neoliberal restructuring had affected Japan’s particular postwar relationship between welfare, corporations and individuals (i.e. the post-war Japanese system of “welfare corporatism”); and what restructuring had done to individual workers and their subjectivity, as corporate culture was transformed and rearticulated with new forms of organization, evaluation, and governance.

Neoliberal reforms had brought in deregulations of non-regular employment, discretionary work, and a new merit system that emphasized “management-by-objectives”. By promoting American-style management practices and performance-based strategies, it was intended to train up a group of “strong individuals”, in contrast to the “company man” enculturated in the past. But in practice, neoliberal restructuring was imbricated with complex realities of historical trajectories and local contexts. As a result, a number of unintended consequences arose. For instance, employees became defensive, stopped building companionship with colleagues, and had worsen workplace relationships. The liberation and flexibility introduced by the reforms, representing the best interest of the companies, in the eyes of the employees were alienating and dehumanizing.

The audience
As Prof. Gagné concluded, the emergence of a “post-Toyotist affect” revealed new kinds of alienation based on quantified output. The restructuring efforts did not produce a new discourse that enabled the transvaluation of older values into new values. Rather, the de-coupling of employment structures and individual stability led to an ambivalent nostalgia for the previous management style.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

[Upcoming Seminar] ‘The People Here Don’t Cook’: ‘Good Food’ in the Eyes of Ecological Farmers and Consumers in Shanghai

Title: ‘The People Here Don’t Cook’: ‘Good Food’ in the Eyes of Ecological Farmers and Consumers in Shanghai
Speaker: Leo PANG (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, SOAS University of London)
Date and time: 24 February 2017, 1:00p.m.-2:30p.m.
Venue: Room 115, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


The rampant food safety scandals and environmental pollution affecting the Chinese food supply has given rise to a new breed of farmers, who gave up white collar jobs in the city to return to peri-urban farmland to grow produce without using synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. When their produce does not sell at markets, they often justify their poor sales by referring to the lack of people who cook in the area as the main cause. This complaint reflects the farmers’ perception of home cooked food as “good food," as they believe that knowing the origins of produce makes the food more reliable and therefore better than food consumed outside the home. The shared belief in what constitutes “good food” between consumers and farmers, and the willingness of consumers to pay for ecological food as well as their appreciation of the farmers' efforts, strengthens the bonds between them. 

Leo Pang is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at SOAS, University of London. He works on ecological food and farmers’ markets in Shanghai, as well as restaurants and cuisine in Australia and Hong Kong.

All interested are welcome!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

[“Multicultural Hong Kong in Celebration” Series] Celebrating Cultural Diversity in a Multi-ethnic School in Hong Kong

"It was a time of togetherness. We could invite anyone to dance whatever dance. Everyone might be dancing different dances, but we were all enjoying the moment together"
Wai-chi Chee


Extract from the article: 

While most schools in Hong Kong organize annual multicultural activities on the campus, not many would devote a whole week to it. Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo), a multi-ethnic secondary school, is one of them, where 60 per cent of the students are non-Chinese with various ethnic backgrounds, the larger groups being Pakistani, Indian, Nepalese, Filipino, and Indonesian.

While diversity was celebrated in this Multicultural Week, what stood out was not only diversity, but more deeply, “unity in diversity.” For all the activities, students formed themselves into teams that comprised members of diff erent backgrounds. For instance, dodge ball competition had teammates of junior and senior students, boys and girls, Chinese and non-Chinese speakers. For face painting, Chinese and non-Chinese students painted half of each other’s faces. Students could either paint the remaining half themselves or have someone else to paint it. Diversity was celebrated but the task could only be accomplished by collaboration of all team members, and as such, “unity in diversity”.

(Chee 2015:5657)


Want to know more about how multiculturalism is promoted in Hong Kong local scondary school? Click here to read the full text article (first published in Hong Kong Discovery Vol. 91 in November 2015). 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[Job Vacancy] We are recruiting a Project Coordinator!

Our department is looking for a highly motivated individual to join our team! For details, please refer to the recruitment ad below:

Department of Anthropology 
Project Co-ordinator II (1700006S)
Applicants should have (i) a Master’s/Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology; (ii) proficiency in English, Cantonese and Putonghua; (iii) proficiency in various computer software applications, including Chinese word-processing, and familiarity with social media; (iv) good communication and problem-solving skills; (v) initiative and the ability to work independently and pay attention to details; and (vi) experience in designing publicity programmes.  Duties include (a) co-ordinating the Department’s publicity programmes; (b) liaising with schools and giving talks at schools; (c) assisting in the Department’s publication, administration and other related tasks; (d) working with the Programme Director or Graduate Division Head in co-ordinating graduate programmes publicity-related activities; (e) liaising with graduate students and the general public; (f) assisting in the publication, publicity and promotion of undergraduate/graduate programmes; and (g) performing other tasks as assigned.  Appointment will be made on a 1-year contract, renewable subject to good performance and mutual agreement

Application Procedure
The University only accepts and considers applications submitted online for this post. Unposting Date: Feb 21, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

[Upcoming Seminar] Migration and Development in Africa’s Urban Spaces

Title: Migration and Development in Africa’s Urban Spaces
Speaker: Oliver BAKEWELL (Associate Professor and Senior Research Officer, International Migration Institute, University of Oxford)
Date and time: 17 February 2017, 1:00p.m.-2:30p.m.
Venue: Room 115, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

This paper will look at different aspects of the changing relationship between migration and African cities, highlighting points of comparison and contrast with other regions of the world. Over the last century, rural-urban migration has played a major part in the development and growth of African cities, stimulating many debates about people's changing cultural values and social practices as they move to urban areas. This paper will explore two aspects of migration that have not been much considered. First, there is the role of cities as gateways into global markets, which rely on the mobility of African traders across the globe, most notably to China in recent years. Second, there is the movement across Africa that is creating distinctive 'foreign' populations to be found in cities in every part of the continent. Despite (or perhaps because of) having no policy, 'integration' is taking place and people are becoming part of new societies, contributing to the diversity and dynamism of many African cities. 

Oliver Bakewell is Senior Researcher at the International Migration Institute (IMI) and Associate Professor in the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford. His work focuses on the intersections between migration and mobility and broader processes of development and change, with a particular empirical focus on migration within Africa.

All interested are welcome!

Monday, February 6, 2017

[Upcoming Seminar] Post-Toyotist Affect: Japanese Workers Working On Neoliberal Reforms

Title: Post-Toyotist Affect: Japanese Workers Working On Neoliberal Reforms
Speaker: Nana GAGNÉ (Assistant Professor, Department of Japanese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Date and time: 10 February 2017, 1:00p.m.-2:30p.m.
Venue: Room 115, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


This paper analyzes how Japanese state and corporations promoted neoliberal restructuring and how employees on the ground responded and reflected upon such changes. Gagne shows how neoliberal reforms have aimed to produce greater flexibility for corporations and to promote a specific mode of control – “self-management” – among employees. However, instead of rationalizing and legitimizing risk and becoming self-regulating ‘enterprising selves’, many employees have turned inward and become increasingly risk averse in their work lives. As a result, economic restructuring has produced a new kind of “alienation” —neoliberalism as ex-communication— characterized by the expulsion of employees from the safety nets of corporate welfare as well as the breakdown of corporate community, against the backdrop of the emergence of a post-Toyotist affect.

Nana Gagne is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Japanese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She works on gender, sexuality, work, capitalism, as well as reproductive technologies in Japan and the US.

All interested are welcome!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

[Call For Applications] Internship Opportunities in Beijing Palace Museum

Organized by the Home Affairs Bureau, HKSAR Government, 
with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and 
the Hong Kong Volunteers Association as executive arms

Under this internship, students will explore work environment on the Mainland and be assigned with a mentor for different professional trainings and exposure in this prestigious museum (some proposed job descriptions are: 文物修護、展覽策劃、藏品管理、觀眾服務、古建修繕、教育推廣、市場推廣…). 

Programme details are as follows:

Internship period
19 June – 28 July 2017 (Tentative)

Internship City

Programme Fee
· Students are required to pay a deposit of HK$2,000 which is refundable after the successful completion of the internship and all related pre-and-post internship activities
· Inter-city transportation, accommodation, insurance and cultural exchange activities will be arranged and covered.

To be eligible for this internship, the nominee(s) should satisfy the following criteria:
· Must be a full-time non-final year undergraduate or postgraduate student
· Must be the holder of a valid Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card
· Possess good command of Putonghua
· Show strong interest in working at museum or cultural industry
· Must be able to attend the interview on 4 March 2017 (Sat)

Students who are interested in this project can send Prof. Wengcheong Lam (wlam@cuhk.edu.hk) a completed application form with a copy of your résumé latest by February 5, 2017
The application form can be downloaded from the email sent by the department to call for applications for summer internship opportunities in early January.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

[Upcoming Seminar] Film Screening of "Becky's Journey" & Talk by Sine Plambech

Film Screening of "Becky's Journey" & Talk by Sine Plambech

Speaker: Sine Plambech (Postdoctoral Fellow, Danish Institute for International Studies, Denmark)
Date and time: 7 February 2017, 12:30p.m.–2:00p.m.
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


About The Film:

Becky is a 26 year old Nigerian woman who wants to go to Europe to sell sex. She already tried twice. The first time she was stopped with fake documents in the airport in Nigeria, by immigration authorities. This made her decide to begin a deadly journey through the Sahara desert hoping to embark on a migration boat bound for Italy. The film is about migration, sex work and human trafficking seen from the perspective of Becky. Through interviews with Becky and sequences of everyday life, we sense the feelings of limbo and immobility that permeate Becky’s life.

About The Speaker:

Sine Plambech is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Danish Institute for International Studies, Denmark.

All interested are welcome!