Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Upcoming Seminar: Cultural Transmission – The Rules of the Game

"Cultural Transmission –The Rules of the Game" 

Speaker: Alex DE VOOGT
Assistant Curator of African Ethnology, Division of Anthropology
American Museum of Natural History

Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 5 October 2012
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

Board games are a cultural trait that can be used to trace trade routes and cultural contact. Recent results from fieldwork and collections research show that most board games change little when they are introduced across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Archaeological records confirm that this was also true in antiquity and that board games remained the same for hundreds of years. This lecture includes a discussion of these results and a look at the implications for future research.


Feel free to bring your box lunch or sandwich to eat during the talk.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Invited Seminar: Tracing State-Society Relations through Food Safety Control in China’s Aquaculture Development

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, CUHK
"Entangled Guanxi: Tracing State-Society Relations through Food Safety Control in China’s Aquaculture Development "
21Sep 2012

Food safety in China has been a concern in the international mass media for the past decade. Apart from rising fear among foreign countries about imported food from China, what has the food safety crisis brought to China internally? Dr. Huang Yu addressed this question in her detailed and informative talk on 21st September. 
Dr. Huang began by pointing out that the food safety crisis originated from the treadmill effect caused by overproduction of Chinese farmers. In order to maintain such high-yield production, antibiotics were used at the price of food safety. It was not until the WTO imposed a ban on animal products from China that the Chinese state started to pay attention to this problem. Dr. Huang argued that the government adopted new discourses and practices regarding food safety in order to alleviate this problem. These transformations reflected that the governance of China had taken the neoliberal turn, which complicated state-society relations. 

Dr. Huang illustrated how neoliberalism and marketization affected state-society relations in terms of food safety control with two cases. The first case examined a licensed fish veterinary training programme. In order to reduce the cost of the state, now only epidemic diseases are controlled by designated official veterinaries hired by the state, while regular diseases are left to certified veterinaries that are market subjects. It implies the changing role of the state from a caring father towards a market regulator.

The other case that looked at a drug residue detection campaign, however, shows the complex guanxi between the state and the citizens. For example, the owners of shrimp hatcheries were usually informed of an upcoming inspection a day before through special guanxi with lower level officials; the higher level government officials would not be able to find the way to the shrimp hatchery without the guide of county officials. In this situation, county officials faced a dilemma: on the one hand,  they were more sympathetic and protective towards the local farmers, but on the other hand, they had no choice but to report them when the central government tightened restrictions.

To sum up, Dr. Huang’s talk directed our attention to how neoliberalism operates in China. The state-society relations have to be re-conceptualized as shown in the two case studies. 

TSANG, Ching Yi 
M.Phil Candidate 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Exchange Student Recommends the Department

 The other day when we googled our department (yes, we do google ourselves, sometimes), we found that a Finnish student who did exchange in our department in 2007 gives great compliments to the department: "All in all, I can only praise the level of the anthropology department of the CUHK. They do amazing job, they love anthropology and their work, and they are amazing anthropologist role models.” Here, we would like to share some of his experiences of studying in our department. If you want to learn his whole story as an exchange student at CUHK, please have a look at the original blog entry.
Photo: Simple Anthopology Blog

University rankings, CUHK and my thoughtsabout anthropology in the CUHK

Posted on June 3, 2012

My Anthropology studies in CUHK

I had three Anthropology courses in the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Meanings of Life, Anthropology course: prof. Gordon Mathews
Chinese culture, Anthropology course: prof. Joseph Bosco
Magic Myth and Supernatural, Anthropology course: prof. Joseph Bosco

Photo: Simple Anthopology Blog
Both professors were top of the class, and really seriously into anthropology, they were enthusiastic about their work and about the university and about Hong Kong. I would recommend anyone taking any classes with them. The readings were totally awesome and I still have my notes and articles somewhere in safe. Bosco was really professional and good instructor, quite demanding, but in my opinion that’s only a good thing. He has funny humor and he uses lot of good examples in the class.

Professor Mathews was totally awesome in every ways. I consider him the best professor and a lecturer I have ever seen, in any of the lectures in all of the Universities I’ve visited. I got totally hooked on all of my anthropology classes and encourage anyone who has a possibility to take classes in CUHK to go see anthropology lectures, especially from prof. Mathews. He even brought some of his informants to follow up his lectures, and even gave them money so they could come. That is really exemplary way for an anthropologist to thank the informants.

Mathews also took the graduate class to participate in his fieldwork in the famous Hong Kong colossus, Chungking Mansions, a building famous from the Wong Kar-Wai movie Chungking Express. At that time prof. Mathews was preparing his book about the building, the book is now ready and on top of my Amazon wish list (Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong)
Amazing experience in a top of the top university
Photo: Simple Anthopology Blog
All in all, I can only praise the level of the anthropology department of the CUHK. They do amazing job, they love anthropology and their work, and they are amazing anthropologist role models. Teaching methods are great and even with the high amount of students, its easy to get personal attention from the professors.

Also I can give them extra points from the location. The university campus is Beautiful with capital B, on top of a mountain, covered with tropical trees and amazing amazing views everywhere. And the university is in Hong Kong(!), one of the most interesting multicultural hotspots in the world! I cannot imagine better place to study anthropology. If you have a chance to apply to study anthropology in CUHK, I would warmly recommend doing that.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Registry of Anthropological Data Wiki

The American Anthropological Association has announced the creation of a Wiki to help researchers locate anthropological source materials and promote their own research! According to AAA, this is a cutting-edge tool for the new era of anthropology and the 21st century anthropologist! Below is the description from AAA:

One of the effects of the web has been to create myriad crevices and crannies of information. Did you know that Frederick Starr’s notebooks (12 volumes of field notes) have been put online?

Do you have a website of ethnographic or anthropological source materials you’d like people to know about? Add it to the wiki and help others benefit.

Have you deposited your personal papers in an archive? Building on the efforts of the Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records, we are turning to anthropologists to join together and share information about the location of field notes, photographs, sound recordings, and other primary sources.

The wiki is the perfect place to promote your own research and discover interesting new materials. You can ensure that the location of your ethnographic materials isn’t lost or forgotten simply by typing up and publishing a new page on the wiki. The registry needs you though. This is a crowd-sourced effort so it relies on the efforts of individual anthropologists to identify their research. We encourage you to test it and add your own entries. Already the wiki houses information on fascinating research such as the Khipu Database and the Tsimane Amazonian Panel Study. We hope you can help your colleagues identify intriguing projects that might otherwise be easily overlooked. This is a cutting-edge tool for the new era of anthropology and the 21st

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Friday Seminars of Fall 2012 Begin!

 You are cordially invited to attend the seminars presented by the Department of Anthropology. All interested are welcome. Bring your sack lunch and join the talk with us! 

*Seminars take place 12:30-2:00 p.m.
in Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK. (Except Sep 21)

21 Sept. Venue: NAH 11
HUANG Yu, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, CUHK,

“Entangled Guanxi: Tracing State-Society Relations through Food Safety Control
in China's Aquaculture Development.” (details)

5 Oct.
Alex DE VOOGT, Assistant Curator of African Ethnology, Division of
Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, “Cultural Transmission -
The Rules of the Game.”

19 Oct.
Wyman TANG, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, CUHK, “Nepalese
Drug Users in Hong Kong: Ethnicity, Transnationalism, and Marginalization.”

26 Oct.
CHEE Wai Chi, Part time Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, CUHK,

“Optimism Misguided? Teenage Immigrant Students in Hong Kong.”

2 Nov.
YAN Hairong, Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic
University, “A New Metaphor of China? Rumors about Chinese Convict Laborers
in Developing Countries.”

9 Nov.
Thomas S. WEISNER, Professor, Department of Anthropology and Department of
Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences (NPI Semel Institute), UCLA, “Culture as
the Most Important Influence on Human Development.”

23 Nov.
Veronica MAK, Part time Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, CUHK, “The
Globalization of Milk: Milk and Modernity in South China.”

30 Nov.
Yeon Jin SEONG, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Cornell
University, and J.D., Columbia University, “Military Confucianism in a Wall Street
Law Firm.”

7 Dec.
李楠, 香港中文大学,人类学系,博士研究生,“流动中的边界:朝鲜

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Anthropologists Join Actuaries on Risk

Source: Financial Time

Anthropologists and actuaries work together? And on risk management? Yes, you read that right. Recently, these two groups offer one interesting perspective on assessment of the dangers thatbeset a bank, insurance group or any other company. Michael Thompson, an anthropologist, discussed the cultural assumptions that shape risk modelling in pensions and insurance. His work reinforces the point that risk management is not a "rocket science", and culture does matter.

"Investors in the eurozone take note: ... don’t just analyse Mario Draghi’s words; ask yourself whether you assume that any government is now in control – and whether the dynamics are benign."

To learn more, please read this article in Financial Time. Registration is free.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New Faculty Publications

In 2012, the faculty of the Department of Anthropology announced the release of several new publications

Some selected works of Chee-Beng TAN, our recently retired professor, were translated into Chinese and published as《迁徒家乡与认同--文化比较视野下的海外华人研究》in Mainland China. The two translators, Da WU and Ying DUAN are alumni of the department.

"Professor Tan Chee-Beng's major contribution is his study on Chinese acculturation (which he calls 'localization') in Malaysia and beyond, arguing that 'acculturation' does not make the ethnic Chinese lose their ethnic identity. He also maintains that one has to study Chinese overseas beyond national boundaries, and 'Chinese Ethnological Field,' which includes the Chinese in China, should be studied in order to have a proper perspective." – Professor Dr Leo Suryadinata, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.

Siumi TAM (譚少薇), Associate Professor, co-edited《性别觉醒:两岸三地社会性别研究》with Hon Ming YIP (葉漢明), Wai Ching WONG (黃慧貞) Ka Wing LO (盧家詠). This special issue includes research by gender studies scholars from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which explore a wide variety of controversial gender issues from historical, social, psychological and cultural perspectives.

Paul O’Connor, new Adjunct Assistant Professor, authored Islam in Hong Kong: Muslims and Everyday Life in China's World City. In a study that challenges some of the dominant discourse on Muslims minorities in Western Nations, O'Connor builds a detailed picture of daily life of Muslims as ethnic and religious minorities in this unique post-colonial Chinese city. Although the picture that emerges is complex and ambiguous, one striking conclusion is that Muslims in Hong Kong generally find acceptance as a community and do not consider themselves to be victimised because of their religion. (O’Connor gave a talk on his research in our department on 13 April 2012. Visit here to learn more.)
On Sep 5, Wednesday, O'Connor will talk with Phil Whelan on RTHK3 for Morning Brew.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Call for Papers: the 5th Annual Postgraduate Student Forum

The Department of Anthropology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong invites graduate students in Asia and elsewhere to present their current research at the 5th Annual Postgraduate Student Forum. The theme for this year's conference is, Anthropology in Asia: Conceptions, Perspectives and Debates

The forum will take place on 18-19th January, 2013, and seeks to encourage communication among young anthropologists around the world, to help improve their research and to make the excellent research being conducted in Asia better known internationally. Presentations may be in English, Putonghua, and Cantonese, though English is encouraged. When submitting your abstract please inform us in which language you will be presenting.

Deadline for abstract submission is 15th October, 2012. Abstracts should be written in English only and less than 250 words. Applications for a limited number of travel scholarships will be accepted. For more information, please visit our website, or contact us at