Siumi Maria Tam

Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong

Email: siumitam "@" cuhk [dot] edu [dot] hk
Work phone: (852) 3943 7676

About me
Research and Publications

About me


Current positions

項目符號 Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong
項目符號 Co-chair, Gender Studies Programme, Chinese University of Hong Kong
項目符號 Member, Assembly of Fellows, New Asia College
項目符號 Member, Executive Committee, Gender Research Centre, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies
項目符號 Member, Editorial Board, Asian Anthropology
項目符號 Member, Editorial Board, Asian Women



項目符號 1992 PhD in Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Manoa
項目符號 1987 MA in Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Manoa
項目符號 1982 BA (summa cum laude) in Anthropology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Biographical note

I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and went to school here until my first degree and  I enjoy yumcha, egg tarts, and milk tea Hong Kong style, so I consider myself a “local”. I had a chance to take part in the Semester at Sea Program in the early 1980s, which was held on board the SS Universe as it sailed around the world. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences that young people could have, when I learned about how politics and religion shape Indonesians’ daily life, about the disappearance of a culture in Egypt, and how poverty and pride coexist in India. It was the catalyst for my taking up anthropology as a major in college.

My year on exchange at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania made me realize that snow is not romantic at all (most Hong Kong people tend to romanticize snow) as I hated to feel cold, but the warmth of my American host families made up for everything. The other degrees I got were from the University of Hawaii at Manoa—which I guess was a sub-conscious effort to get away from the cold of the American Midwest.

I joined the Department of Anthropology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in 1989, after finishing PhD thesis fieldwork in Shekou, an industrial zone in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. Ever since I have been teaching and doing research on Hong Kong and China related topics, and I feel there are still many issues that deserve studying but that I haven’t time for.

Off work, my greatest interest is observing all sorts of cultural phenomena, and guessing what people really mean when they say or do something. This is anthropology in everyday practice—or “occupational disease”, depending on whether you like it! I also enjoy immensely the music of qin, an ancient Chinese instrument which is still being played by a small group of musicians. While it is not a popular instrument that people take up as a hobby, it is an important cultural symbol in the Han intellectual tradition. It also has a most calming effect for anyone who needs to wind down after a hard day’s work!





Courses I teach in 2010-11

Spring 2011

ANT 2310/UGEC2653 Gender and Culture


Teaching-related activities


項目符號 Represented Hong Kong at the UNESCO Regional Consultation on Women’s/Gender Studies Programmes in the Asia-Pacific Region, Bangkok, December 2003.
項目符號 Publication: Country Institutional Report: Hong Kong SAR. In Women’s/Gender Studies in Asia-Pacific.  Philip Bergstrom, ed. Pp.244-266. Bangkok: UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, 2004.

b) Office of International Studies Programmes, CUHK

項目符號 Associate Director (1991-1996) and Acting Director (Jul-Dec 1993)
項目符號 Publications:
項目符號 “International Education at the Chinese University of Hong Kong”. Presentation at the National Association for Foreign Student Affairs, Miami, 30 May- 3 June 1994.
項目符號 “What Should International Schools Teach about China?”. Invited lecture, “In Touch with China: A Conference for International Educators”, CERCOS, Hong Kong International School, 10-11 Nov 1995.

c) Gender Studies Programme, CUHK

項目符號 Forces of Tradition, Forces of Change: University Women in Gender Studies in Hong Kong. Paper presented at International Conference on “The Indigenization of Women’s Studies Teaching: Asian Experiences”, Chinese Women’s College, Beijing, 18-20 October 2002.
項目符號 Reflections on Teaching Gender Studies Courses. Video presentation in "Bringing Women's Studies into the Curriculum" Session, Conference on "Women and Gender in the Curriculum of Higher Education", Chiang Mai, 25 February 1994.
項目符號 Gender Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Presentation at Workshop on Approaches to Women Studies in Asia, Ewha University, Seoul, February 1993.

d) Department of Anthropology, CUHK

項目符號 Teaching as “Culturalization”: Reflections on Hongkong-specific Anthropological Pedagogy. In On the South China Track: Perspectives on Anthropological Research and Teaching. S.Cheung, ed. Pp.199-210. Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK, 1998.


Research and Publications


Research Interests

As a cultural anthropologist, my research interests are issues of cultural identity as they interface with gender, mobility, and work. The area of focus is geographically Hong Kong and Chinese society; but in the globalized world today, I examine them as cultural entities as they extend beyond their geographic borders. This involves investigating the similarities and diversities of Hong Kong and Chinese communities, how traditional values and social behavior travel across national borders, and how people and their subjectivities manifest in various contextualized time-space. An important area of concern in my recent research is the Chinese family as ideology and as praxis, and how individuals as social and cultural agents maneuver, transform and maintain the social institution.


Publications in journals and books

2005. (Siumi Maria Tam and Yip Hon Ming, editors). Tung Chung before and after the New Airport: An ethnographic and historical study of a community in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Antiquities and Monuments Office, HKSAR. [abstract]


2005. Engendering Minnan Mobility: Women sojourners in a patriarchal world. In Southern Fujian: Reproduction of Traditions in Post-Mao China. Tan Chee Beng, ed. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press. [abstract]

2005. We-women and They-women: Imagining mistresses across the Hong Kong-China border. In Rethinking and Recasting Citizenship: Social Exclusion and Marginality in Chinese Societies. May Tam, Ku Hok-bun, and Travis Kong, eds. Hong Kong: Centre for Social Policy Studies, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  [abstract]

2005. A Bibliography of Gender Studies in Hong Kong 1998-2003. (compiled by Siumi Maria Tam and Trisha Leahy). Hong Kong: Gender Research Centre, CUHK. [abstract]

2004. Country Institutional Report: Hong Kong SAR. In Women’s/Gender Studies in Asia-Pacific. Philip Bergstrom, ed. Pp.244-266. Bangkok: UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education.

2004. Gender Differences in the Career Development of Professionals in Hong Kong. (Mandy Hoi, Fanny Cheung and Siumi Maria Tam). Hong Kong: Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies Occasional Paper No.152.

2004. 女性的想像與現實:中港跨境一夫多妻關係.《廣西民族學院學報》26 (6):18-25.. [Imaginations and Realities of Femininity: Polygyny across the Hongkong-China border. Journal of Guangxi University for Nationalities 26(6):18-25]

2004. 編《分隔家庭對性別關係的衝擊》. [Impact of the Split Household on Gender Relations] Hong Kong: Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK, occasional paper no. 151.

2004. 傳統的力量與改變的力量──香港的性別研究教學經驗. [Forces of Tradition, Forces of Change: Experiences in teaching gender studies in Hong Kong] 《婦女學教學本土化──亞洲經驗》. 王金玲主編. 北京:當代中國出版社.

2003. Empowering Mobility: ‘Astronaut’ Women in Australia. In Gender and Change in Hong Kong: Globalization, Post-Colonialism and Chinese Patriarchy. Eliza Wing Yee Lee, ed. Pp.177-199. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. [abstract]

2003. Eating Metropolitaneity: Hong Kong Identity in yumcha. In Hong Kong: Legacies and Prospects of Development. Benjamin K.P. Leung, ed. In the series The International Library of Social Change in Asia Pacific - Hong Kong. Pp.459-468. Ashgate. (reprint from The Australian Journal of Anthropology 8(3): 291-306.) [abstract]

2003.「功成身退」: 香港女性「航天員」的責任的與自主. 《中國文化與女性》。魏國英,王春梅主編。北京:北京大學中外婦女問題研究中心,香港中文大學性別研究中心。[Goal Achieved, Time to Retreat: Duty and Autonomy among Hong Kong's 'Astronaut' Women. In Chinese Culture and Women. Wei Guoying and Wang Chunmei, eds. Beijing: Women’s Research Centre, Peking University, and Gender Research Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong.]

2003. 編《性別觀察》[Observing Gender]. 香港: 麥穗. [abstract]


2002. Heunggongyan Forever: Immigrant life and Hong Kong style yumcha in Australia. In The Globalization of Chinese Food. David Wu and Sidney Cheung, eds. Pp.131-151. Surrey: Curzon Press.

2001. Lost, and Found?: Reconstructing Hong Kong Identity in the Idiosyncrasy and Syncretism of yumcha. In Changing Chinese Foodways in Asia. David Wu and Tan Chee Beng, eds. Pp.49-69. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.

2001. 飲茶與香港身分認同 [Yumcha and Hong Kong identity. In Reading Hong Kong Popular Cultures 1970-2000. Revised edition. Ng Chun Hung and Cheung Chi Wai, eds. Pp. 400-405. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.]

2000. Modernization from a Grassroots Perspective: Women Workers in Shekou Industrial Zone. In China's Regions, Polity and Economy: A Study of Spatial Transformation in the Post-Reform Era. Si-ming Li and Wing-shing Tang, eds. Pp.371-390. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.

2000. Practicing Gender and Practicing Medicine: ‘Tradition’ and ‘Modernity’ in Post-colonial Hong Kong. Intersections: Gender History and Culture in the Asian Context Issue 3 (January 2000).

1999. Culture and Society of Hong Kong: A Bibliography. (Sidney Cheung and Siumi Maria Tam). Hong Kong: Department of Anthropology, CUHK.

1998. 個人與婦女:人類學對中國現代化研究的兩個切入點 [The Individual and the Female: Two Starting Points in the Anthropological Study of Chinese Modernization]. In The Development of Sociology and Anthropology in China. C. Chiao, ed. Pp. 439-445. New Asia College Academic Monographs, CUHK.

1997. Hong Kong: the Anthropology of a Chinese Metropolis. Grant Evans and Siumi Maria Tam, eds. London: Curzon Press, and Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. [abstract]


Research Projects

2005-2007. Engendering Ethnic Existence: An ethnographic study of Nepalese women in Hong Kong.

2004-2005. Fatherhood in Hong Kong: An Anthropological study of men’s views and behavior.

2001-2004. The Social Construction of Family and Gender: An investigation of polygyny across the Hong Kong-China border.

1999-2002. Coming ‘Home’?: Cultural Identity of Former Emigrants Returning to Post-colonial Hong Kong.

1998-1999. Globalizing Local Identity: Hong Kong Immigrant Families in Australia.

1997-1999. Co-investigator. Tradition, Change and Identity: A Study on the Minnan People in China and Southeast Asia.

1995-1997. Co-investigator. Cooking up Hong Kong Identity: A Study of Food Culture, Changing Tastes and Identity in Public Discourse.

1994-1998. Gender and the Professions in Hong Kong: The Politics of Work and the Social Construction of Gender.


Commissioned Research

1999-2000. Convenor for Qualitative Section, “Family Status Discrimination Research”. Equal Opportunities Commission.

1993-1994.   Study on the Community Needs of Women and Men in Shatin. Shatin District Board, Hong Kong Government.       

Co-investigator. Survey on Public's Perception of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. City and New Territories Administration, Hong Kong Government.

Behavior and Perception of Shatin Youth towards Election. Shatin District Board.

1992-1993. Community Involvement of Women in Shatin. Shatin District Board, Hong Kong Government.

Ethnographic Study on Tung Chung and San Tau. Antiquities and Monuments Office, Hong Kong Government.