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An Anthropological Talk by Kwong Miu Ying

Is Death the End? Senses of Life After Death in Guangdong and Hong Kong

Thursday 2 July 2015, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Death poses an ultimate threat to our lives and our sense of security in this world. Life after death has always been a point of concern among people in different parts of the world and various religions and local beliefs offer diverse depictions of what an afterlife is like. This talk explores how individuals in Guangdong and Hong Kong envision what will happen to them after they die. Guangdong, like many other parts of China went through the socialist era when religions and supernatural beliefs and practices were banned. While the atheist education in that period has produced numbers of non-believers in the afterlife and even atheists, many seem to be increasingly interested in this issue since the reform era. Graveyard and related businesses are now heavily invested in. Offerings for the deceased have grown in variety to include the most up-to-date models of cell phones. What do these trends tell us about changes in senses of afterlife among Chinese in recent decades? Compared to Guangdong, people in Hong Kong have enjoyed relative religious freedom, although the government favored Christianity among other religions under the colonial rule. Its historical trajectory gives rise to a different scene in terms of senses of life after death. Based on months of in-depth interviews, this talk addresses individuals' deepest fears and how they tackle them with or without an imagination of an afterlife.

Kwong Miu Ying is an Mphil student, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The HKAS is a member of the World Council of Anthropological Associations

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