Friday, March 2, 2012

Arts Faculty Colloquium: Understanding Globalization through Chungking Mansions

Dr. Gordon Mathews
Professor, Anthropology Dept., CUHK
"Understanding Globalization through Chungking Mansions"
24 February 2012

The Anthropology Department’s, Dr. Gordon Mathews presented the first in a series of Faculty of Arts Colloquiums based on his book Ghetto at the Centre of the World about Chungking Mansions. As well as covering the background of Chungking mansions and the people there, the talk focussed on explaining the anthropological methods that he used in the course of his research. These included methods of participant observation such as hanging around, listening and asking questions, as well as staying in some of the guest houses. Mathews also talked about the application of theories such as Immanuel Wallerstein’s World Systems theory and Arjun Appadurai’s of globalisation theory in his research. The talk showed how anthropological research methods, particularly long term field work, can yield findings that other forms of research such as questionnaires would not be able to uncover. Mathews noted that because most of what was going on in the Chungking Mansions in relation to trade such as the trade in copy phones was illegal, researchers would need to gain the trust of the traders before they would share their stories. Overall, Dr. Mathews’ talk showed listeners how anthropological research is carried out and its effectiveness in sensitive situations such as that of Chungking Mansions.

M.Phil Candidate

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