Archive 2017
     
             
     

THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Huang Xiuwei

Arguing the political, Enacting the Moral: Ordinary Citizens' Struggle for Social Change in Contemporary Hong Kong

Friday 8 December 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

After the end of the Umbrella Movement, many pro-democracy activists now struggle to deal with what they perceive to be an increasingly ominous political and social climate. In this talk, I look at how some ordinary yet concerned Hong Kongers can keep their political commitments alive in their daily lives. I examine how two groups of citizens conceptualize their seemingly commonplace charitable and voluntary activities as a form of activism, as they endeavor to raise people's awareness of social issues by highlighting the hardship of the underprivileged, and encourage civic participation by initiating political discussion with people who care or know little about politics. Paying special attention to moral dilemmas and ethical reflections, I illustrate how the political is lived and enacted as part of people's every day, ethical experience.

Huang Xiuwei is a recent MPhil graduate in the Department of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Francis Allard

Southeast China and the origins of the Maritime Silk Route

Thursday 23 November 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Archaeological discoveries over the past decades have revealed the existence of early contacts between China and distant regions along what some have labelled the 'Maritime Silk Route'. The evidence includes not only funerary objects, but also natural products and knowledge whose origins some have placed in Southeast Asia or regions further west. The talk focuses on the evidence for such maritime contacts recovered from archaeological contexts in southeast China during the Qin and Han periods. It also considers how the region was incorporated into pre-existing exchange networks operating throughout Southeast Asia, and discusses the extent to which exotic goods of distant origins impacted Southeast China's early social landscape.

Professor Allard holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. A Professor in the department of Anthropology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he has conducted fieldwork in Southern China, Vietnam and Mongolia, and written extensively about the archaeology of complex societies and early imperial expansion in China. A recent publication of relevance to this talk is "Globalization at the Crossroads. The Case of Southeast China during the Pre- and Early Imperial Period" (in The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization, 2016).


THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Non Arkaraprasertkul

Gentrifying from within: An anthropological reflection on Urban Social Change in a Chinese Megacity

Thursday 19 October 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Based on a long term ethnographic research in a traditional Shanghainese urban alleyway-house neighborhood (known locally as lilong), Arkaraprasertkul describes how knowledge of the global hierarchy of value encourages pragmatic local residents to foresee a different future and voluntarily gets involved in the process of urban renewal to enhance their own interests. Expanding the perspective on existing notions of gentrification, he develops the concept of "gentrification from within" to explain this unique process of social and demographic change to which the processes of capital investment and cultural reproduction are central. Unlike conventional gentrification, the original (often retired) working-class residents themselves are the key actors in the diversification of the traditional neighborhood. The incoming middle-class residents, who are the ones usually responsible for gentrification, are passive recipients of housing as commodities whereby the original residents take control of their situation through making their houses suited to middle-class tastes.

Dr. Non Arkaraprasertkul is Senior Lecturer in Urbanism at the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design, and Planning. His research interests include urbanisation and development, housing and urban settlements, and anthropology of space and place. He holds a PhD and MA in Anthropology from Harvard University, MPhil in Modern Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford, and Master of Science in Architecture Studies and Urban Design Certificate from MIT.


THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by John Skutlin

Japan, Ink: Exploring the Tatto Stigma in Japan

Friday 15 September 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

As tattoos have become more commonplace in the U.S., Europe, and now Japan, why has the stigma in Japan persisted, how is it changing, and how/why do individuals choose to decoratively modify their bodies in the face of such negative attitudes and discrimination?

This talk will explain how the constantly shifting perceptions of tattooing in Japan are the result of a swirling confluence of discourses that both challenge and reinforce the prevailing views of the practice in Japan as criminal or anti-social.

It reveals how individuals are highly cognizant of the vastly differing social norms of tattooing in Japan and abroad, and how they strategically adapt to, conform to, or reject such norms while walking the line between deviance and acceptability and pushing the boundaries of how one can modify one's body in Japan.

Dr. John M. Skutlin is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the CUHK Department of Japanese Studies.


THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological discussion between Gordon Mathews & "John"

Victims? Con Artists? Seekers of Better Lives? A Sympathetic but Skeptical Dialogue Between an Asylum Seeker and an Anthropology Professor

Friday 28 July 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

In this dialogue, "John," a Middle Eastern asylum seeker will discuss why he had to flee his home and family, and how he happened to come to Hong Kong. He will also discuss immigration in Hong Kong, and how the government and Hong Kongers treat asylum seekers, and will share how it feels to be an asylum seeker in this city. Gordon Mathews will serve as a sympathetic but also skeptical interviewer, wondering why asylum seekers come to Hong Kong, why asylum seekers are often considered "fake," and why the rejection rate is so high in Hong Kong, with fewer than 1% of asylum seekers accepted as refugees, asking questions such as "Don't you come here just to work?" "Don't you come here just to date Hong Kong women?" "Why should Hong Kong, with all its own problems, serve as a haven for people like you?" "If your case is rejected, what will you do? What is your future?" John and Gordon, who have been close friends for years, will engage with each other and with the audience in a wide-ranging and free-flowing discussion of the situation of asylum seekers in Hong Kong.

"John" is an asylum seeker from the Middle East who has been in Hong Kong for five years. Gordon Mathews is Vice President of the Hong Kong Anthropological Society and professor of anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Grazia Deng

Chinese Expresso: Entrepreneurship, Ethnicities and Encounters in Bologna, Italy

Friday 2 June 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Coffee bars are strongly associated with Italian urban cultures and local identity in everyday life. However, since the economic recession of 2008, Northern-Central Italy has experienced the quick expansion of Chinese entrepreneurship in the coffee bar business.

While feeling puzzled by the Chinese "invasion" of Italian culture, local residents are, reluctantly or not, learning to get used to the espresso made by the Chinese. Where do these Chinese come from? Why do they surge into the Italian coffee bar business, which seems to require a high language ability and cultural competence? How do they overcome social and cultural boundaries, while striving for business success?

Drawing from fourteen months of fieldwork in the city of Bologna, this talk will explore business and cultural strategies deployed by Chinese coffee bar owners in everyday encounters with local customers. It will further shed light on a new mode of disjuncture between economic participation and social integration, being shaped in their everyday negotiations of cultural differences and values.

Grazia Deng is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research interests are in Migration Studies, urban Anthropology, Anthropology of China, and Anthropology of Italy and Europe.

THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Gideon Aran

Human Bombs: Ten Theses on Suicide Terrorism

Friday 5 May 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

The presentation concerns suicide terrorism in the context of the Middle East conflict and in global perspective. It is based on extensive study conducted during the Intifada in Jerusalem. The research combines intensive case study that draws on fieldwork (mostly in-depth interviewing and participant observation) with historical and comparative-theoretical analysis.

To kill while committing suicide is something essentially different from the sum of the two components of the act, something that may not necessarily be more difficult to do or explain than the doing or explaining of its two parts. Indeed, it may be that the two definitely contribute to each other and enable each other. If someone combines the killing of others with suicide, then the murder will sanction the suicide, and the suicide will sanction the murder.

This is because making a murderous attack upon others conditional upon self-destruction and committing both simultaneously blurs the distinction between the aggressor and victim. Thus, although he is a murderer, he demands a moral status for himself, as it were, and implicitly claims to have ethical superiority over the people he kills. This logic is fundamental to suicide terrorism, one component of the explanation of this horrifying and enigmatic phenomenon.

The results of this research are summed up in a forthcoming book titled: Suicide Terrorism: Anthropological Perspectives.

Gideon Aran is the 2017 Elman Family Visiting Professor in Jewish and Israeli Studies at HKUST, and (emeritus) professor of Sociology and Anthropology at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His major fields of academic interest are Israeli Society, Religion, Radicalism, and Aggression.

THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Cheris Shun-ching Chan

Medical Doctors Savaged to Death in China: Whose Fault?

Thursday 27 April 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

On March 23, 2012, a medical resident in Harbin, north China, was stabbed to death by an angry young patient. More recently on May 5, 2016, a stomatologist in Guangdong was stabbed to death by a middle-aged patient. These were, unfortunately, not isolated incidents. Physical violence against doctors in mainland China has been happening every year throughout the past decade.

A study published as early as 2008 found that more than half of the surveyed medical professionals reported having been verbally abused, and 3.9 percent physically assaulted, by patients in the past year. How can we explain patients' escalating dissatisfaction with medical professionals and the tension between doctors and patients? In this presentation, I explore the causes and offer an initial analysis of the problem. I describe how the corporatization of public hospitals in China has resulted in a blatant conflict of interests and mutual distrust between doctors and patients.

At the same time, while patients are increasingly aware of their rights and lifting their expectations on medical professionals, the Chinese health insurance system imposes a number of constraints on the professional autonomy of doctors, forcing them to select profitable patients and treat patients unequally. These institutional problems have made doctors the scapegoat for patients' frustrations and anger.

Cheris Shun-ching Chan is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include culture, economic practices, healthcare, globalization, new social movements, and Chinese societies.


THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Hao-Tzu Ho

Finding Alternatives to Urban Living: Hands-on Food Growing in Hong Kong

Friday 24 March 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Farming activities in the city are often regarded as individual preferences. However, social and political-economic contexts might actually play an important role. This study explores the implications of the emergence of urban food growers by focusing on young farmers in Hong Kong, a densely populated capitalist city with high cost of living.

This research finds out that young farmers are motivated by reflections upon urban lifestyle. They discuss issues of human-environment relationship, community, local food and self- sufficient living. Despite low financial rewards, they adopt various strategies to establish ways of living which they think are meaningful, enjoyable and moral.

Nevertheless, young farmers often encounter difficulties which prevent them from beginning an alternative lifestyle or making it sustainable. Paying attention to the contexts that they are dealing with, this paper reexamines the value of economic incentive and reconsiders the tension between individual agency and social structure.

Hao-Tzu Ho is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Durham University and a visiting doctoral researcher at Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong. Her current research focuses on urban development and alternative food networks.


THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by John Whelpton

Anthropology in Reverse: South Asian Visitors in 19th Century London

Friday 10 February 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Anthropology has most typically involved the study and analysis of the culture of technically less advanced societies by scholars born or socialised into more advanced ones. This talk looks instead at the impression of European societies gained by travelers from South Asia in the 19th century. The focus is mainly on the 1850 visit to London and Paris by Jang Bahadur Rana, founder of the Rana family regime which ruled Nepal from 1846 to 1951.

One of Jang's companions produced an account of this expedition for circulation in Kathmandu and his perspective can be compared with European press reporting on the Nepalese embassy, the memoirs of the British liaison officer who accompanied it and the reactions to British society of 'Lutfullah', a Muslim visitor to London in the 1840s and Dilip Hiro, an Indian engineer arriving in the 1950s.

Most intriguingly we also now have an account of the 1850 visit penned, with the assistance of one or more British collaborators, by a Nepalese crossing sweeper recruited by Jang in London as an interpreter and inter-cultural consultant. These sources provide a window into perceptions of royal power, the Hindu caste system, and the contrast in relations between the sexes in South Asia and Europe. Above all, they illustrate the complex way in which observers' own culture and interests shape their perceptions.

John WHELPTON taught English in Nepal in 1972-74 and has since then continued research into the country's history and politics. His publications include A History of Nepal (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Jang Bahadur in Europe: the First Nepalese Mission to the West (2nd. edition, Mandala Book Point, 2016). He is an honorary research associate at the Catholic Studies Centre in the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Tom McDonald

Familiar Strangers: Social Media and the Outsider in Chinese Kinship

Wednesday 18 January 2017, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Anthropological accounts of social relations within Chinese society have traditionally viewed both kinship and familiarity as the basis of relationships between persons, which has inevitably led to the exclusion of strangers from the majority of attempts to theorize such relations. This lecture draws on ethnographic evidence collected during 15 months of fieldwork studying the impact of social media use in a rural Chinese town, which revealed the nature of these novel relationships with strangers which are facilitated by social media, showing how these encounters need to be understood in relation to the specific rural context in which participants reside.

Through these ethnographic cases and observations, this lecture will argue that participants do not position strangers that they meet on social media outside of their network of social relations. Instead, the mediatized relationships offered by social media come to represent a ready source of potential friends with whom they are both eager and willing to interact. On occasion, it is actually these strangers who individuals feel they can most easily confide in, and share intimate feelings - or experiences - with.

This lecture will thus conclude by arguing that improved models for understanding Chinese social relationships are needed, which are capable of understanding the stranger as integral, rather than antithetical to sociality.

Tom McDonald is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong.

 
       
   
       

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