Monday, March 5, 2012

HKAS Highlight: The Manila Hostage Crisis and Hong Kong Interethnic Relations

Ms. Candy Hiu Yan Yu
M.Phil Candidate, Anthropology Dept., CUHK
"The Manila Hostage Crisis and Hong Kong Interethnic Relations"
Invited Talk at the Hong Kong Anthropological Society
29 February 2012, Hong Kong Museum of History

First year MPhil candidate, Candy Yu gave a talk based on her undergraduate research on how the Manila Hostage Crisis affected the relations between Filipinos and Hong Kongers. Yu examined this relationship on three levels – the individual level specifically focussing on the relationship between Filipino Domestic Workers and their Employers, the societal level and the international level with the dynamic between China, the Philippines and Hong Kong in wake of the crisis.

While noting that there have been many cases of abuse by employers, Yu found that there were many cases where employers realised that the crisis had nothing to do with their employees. She pointed out cases where employers stood up for their employees when the helpers were the target of abuse when shopping. Yu noted that there was a parallel discourse on internet forums that was much more derogatory in the wake of the crisis. Yu argued that this is because many of those on the internet forums did not have domestic helpers and had never met any Filipinos, thus the only image of Filipinos that they have is the media’s portrayal in the wake of the crisis.

Yu’s coverage of the international level illustrated the precarious position of Hong Kong in international affairs. She focussed on Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s inability to reach President Benigno Aquino, who dismissed Chief Executive Tsang as not being on the same standing internationally. Yu argued that this showed that despite Hong Kong not being a nation state, Hong Kongers did not want the Chinese government to intervene on a diplomatic level, reflecting a wider societal suspicion towards Mainland China.

Yu’s talk shows how anthropology can be used to examine current events such as the Manila Hostage Crisis. With the use of interpretive anthropology, analysing the Manila Hostage from multiple perspectives of the individual, society and international relations, Yu was able to shed light on several issues such interethnic relations to the political position in Hong Kong.

For more information please visit the Hong Kong Anthropologist to see a copy of Candy’s research paper on which this talk was based.

M.Phil Candidate

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