Friday, November 30, 2012

Upcoming Seminar: 朝鮮族跨國移工婦女的性別角色與認同



Speaker : LI Nan
PhD Candidate, Anthropology Department, CUHK
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 7 December 2012
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK
Language: Mandarin




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

Friday, November 23, 2012

Upcoming Seminar: Military Confucianism in a Wall Street Law Firm

"Military Confucianism in a Wall Street Law Firm"


Speaker :Yeon Jin SEONG
J.D., Columbia University

PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 30 November 2012
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


U.S. law firms, including Wall Street firms, are managed by strict ethics and practice guidelines from the headquarters. Korea practice groups of these firms were located in Hong Kong before a recent opening of the Korean legal market to U.S. and European firms. The Korea practice group of one of the Wall Street law firms at issue is operated by a mode of behavior and implicit rules that are quite different from, and in certain cases in direct breach of, the firm's general policy. The Korea practice group's modus operandi and discursive space are expressed and practiced in terms of military experience and Confucianist tenets. Everyday practice of hierarchy-bearing terms and culture-specific modes of interaction and behavior leads to the creation of an overdetermined meaning of being a Korean-speaking lawyer in the Korea practice group.


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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Anthropologists in the NGO World

Source: Anthropology Works, American Anthropological Association
by Jean J Schensul

I am a medical/educational anthropologist who has spent almost all of my professional life in the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) world in the United States and globally. NGOs are situated at the interface between government, the private sector and people. They have the capacity to reach people when governmental or private agencies cannot. Because they are flexible in administration and staffing, NGOs are positioned to identify new problems in the field and to shift their programs quickly. They are uniquely able to react rapidly to emerging health problems, natural and human created disasters, and other situations that require immediate response.

In my own work, I have been committed to the development and growth of a particular form of NGO, the Community Based Research Organization (CBRO). CBROs conduct collaborative or participatory action research usually with social action or social justice purposes. My reasons for building CBROs lie in my desire as a methodologist and activist scholar to democratize science – to make the theories, methods and results of social science research available to communities that have been excluded from the creation and dissemination of science-based knowledge so that they, together with social scientists, can create their own knowledge base and speak to power from a position of strength.

In 1978, I moved to Hartford, and joined the fledgling Hispanic Health Council, a CBRO, as a co-founder along with founders Maria Borrero, a community activist, and Stephen Schensul, a medical anthropologist. The Hispanic Health Council was then dedicated to research training and advocacy to reverse inequities, and to improve the health of Latinos in Connecticut. At the Hispanic Health Council I learned to write many National Institutes of Health (NIH) and local/national foundation grants, and, working with Maria, developed its strategic plan and research program. As an increasingly competent and creative technical writer, I could draw on and integrate cultural and structural factors, community voices and ethnographic methods into successful grants. My knowledge of Spanish and field experiences in Cuban Miami and in central Mexico helped, although I had to work at a proper Puerto Rican pronunciation.

After ten years, the “adolescent phase” of growth at the Hispanic Health Council was complete, and in 1987 I was invited to re-invent another CBRO, the Institute for Community Research. I was given a small amount of money and the support to create an organization dedicated to collaborative research for social justice. My prior experience at the “Council” gave me the authenticity and knowledge that enabled me to work with many marginalized communities, to link them around common development agendas and to engage them with national funders, researchers, and activist collaborators around the country and the globe. I was able to bring my considerable administrative experience as a research director to the directorship of an organization with a broader vision, mandate and reach. With board support, we revised the mission statement, replaced and diversified the board and staff, and began to hire anthropologists as researchers. We quickly put into place a broad ranging interdisciplinary program of participatory action research with our community partners in HIV, aging, youth development, substance and substance abuse. This program continues to this day in the greater Hartford area, and has extended to sites in China and India thanks to strong support by NIH, other federal funders, and national and local foundations and the capacities and connections of our research team. Over 40 anthropologists have contributed to the ICR mission since 1988.

For anthropologists interested in innovative ways of conducting research for social change, CBROs in the U. S. and elsewhere are ideal environments. The advantages of working in an NGO are many including proximity to communities, opportunities to innovate, and ways of maximizing the uses of anthropology in field settings. CBROs are in high demand as partners to university faculty that want to conduct community based research and need the leadership of community based scientists and community advocates. Despite the constraints of unstable funding, limited upward mobility and shifting funder priorities, I have found the creation and management of CBROs, calling for passionate entrepreneurship, collaboration, imagination, political analysis, and methodological sophistication, to be highly rewarding.

Jean J Schensul is Senior Scientist & Founding Director at the Institute for Community Research in Hartford, CT.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

We've Started Accepting Applications for Postgraduate Programmes!

Here is some brief application information of the 2013 postgraduate programmes of the Department of Anthropology at CUHK. For more details please visit the department's website.

PhD Programme

The goals of the Ph.D. programme are (1) to teach students the latest theories and methods of anthropology, covering the full range of areas addressed by social and cultural anthropology in the past and at present, and (2) to provide students with the anthropological training and guidance to carry out their own extended ethnographic research projects from start (proposal), to fieldwork and write-up, to finish (publication). The goal is to produce a publishable book that demonstrates the graduate's ability to meet international professional standards of research and analysis.

Application Deadline: 31 January 2013

MPhil Programme


The goals of the MPhil programme at CUHK are (1) to teach students the fundamental theories and methods of anthropology, covering the full range of areas addressed by social and cultural anthropology in the past and at present, and (2) to provide students with the anthropological training and guidance to carry out their own extended ethnographic research projects from start (proposal), to fieldwork and write-up, to finish (publication).

 Application Deadline: 31 January 2013

MA Postgraduate Programme

The goal of the programme is to teach students the basic theories and methods of social and cultural anthropology and to give them a broad understanding of anthropology's different topics. Students will learn to develop their abilities of critical, independent and creative thinking in analyzing contemporary social and political issues, and understanding the diversity of human cultures and societies.

A key feature and major advantage of the Programme is that students are able to take courses that fit their background and interest. For example, foreign students can concentrate on Chinese society and culture, while students working in museums can concentrate on the anthropology of tourism, museums, archaeology, and other areas relevant to their work.

The M.A. Programme is designed for people who have not majored in anthropology but wish to receive a formal education in the discipline. Work experience is desirable, so that students can better relate coursework to their profession. Candidates with a strong background in social sciences may wish to concentrate on one of the Department's specializations such as the Anthropology of East Asia or Ethnicity and Identity.

For September 2013 admission, application deadline: 31 March 2013.
For January 2014 admission, application deadline: 30 September 2013.
To facilitate the application process, applicants should apply as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Publication: Walking through Sheung Wan

Are you wondering what to do in Hong Kong other than shopping and having dim sum? What about  an anthropological adventure?

In the past year, the Department of Anthropology at CUHK has worked on the “Walking through Sheung Wan Series” project, with the support from the Knowledge Transfer project entitled “Learning from Neighbourhood Tourism in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong” and HK Discover. Led by Professor Sidney C.H. Cheung, the team did one-year ethnographic field research in the community. Based on the findings, we established a user-friendly website, which walks visitors through the Nam Pak Hong area with a history of more than one century, flashing back the trade-development relationships of dried seafood, traditional Chinese medicines and groceries like salted fish over the past century. Through this project, we explore, from an anthropological angle, the possibility of knowledge transfer from local communities to visitors, and a mutual interaction between community and tourism. With  the holistic approach of anthropology, we hope to bring an in-depth understanding of a local neighbourhood undergoing modernization and globalization.

We also published what we have learned from the community as a book called Sheung Wan. Put it into your backpack and take an anthropological adventure! We are looking forward to your experience and feedback.

Why Sheung Wan? (Excerpt from the book Sheung Wan)


Sheung Wan is the one neighbourhood that made Hong Kong a successful and important trading hub over the last century, in which the traditional features of trading are still visible today. Since the mid-19th century, via the overseas Chinese network in Thailand, Nam Pak Hong was established to facilitate the import of various dried products into Hong Kong for trading with other Chinese societies throughout Asia. When Hong Kong was still a fishing village, Sheung Wan was already made a very active trade centre by its geographical location, and the traditional business practices there has somehow preserved and remained this way since.… This creates an exotic and unique impression for anyone who visits there for the first time. Again these traders handle dried food commodities from all over the world, e.g. Abalones from Japan, sea cucumbers from Indonesia, salted fish from Bangladesh, herbal medicines from mainland China, local shrimp pastes, aged tangerine peels, fish maws, ginseng, birds’ nests, etc. Those traders have stories to share as part of the oral history of the community. As these food items are part of the Chinese cuisine, we consider this a unique experience for inbound tourists and foreign visitors interested in the culture and history of Hong Kong.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Upcoming Seminar: Milk and Modernity in South China

"The Globalization of Milk: Milk and Modernity in South China"

Speaker: Veronica MAK
Part-time Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, CUHK
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 23 November 2012
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


This presentation is based on an ethnographic study of the production and consumption of cow’s milk in Shunde, where traditional buffalo milk culture existed until recently but imported milk has become dominant. Contrary to the popular view that cow milk consumption in China is a result of the influence of a modern “western” diet, milk production and consumption in South China is actually a continuation and reinvention of a Chinese tradition. The popularity of milk consumption in Shunde is driven by the forces of globalization, capitalism, and modern state-building. The different values associated with milk consumption, including health claims, notions of culinary heritage, and government promoted national pride, show that milk is a contested ground for the reconfiguration of modern identity


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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Invited Seminar: Nepalese Drug Users in Hong Kong

Mr. Wyman TANG
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, CUHK
"Nepalese Drug Users in Hong Kong: Ethnicity, Transnationalism, and Marginalization"
19 Oct 2012

Mr. Tang provided a rich ethnographic picture of Nepalese young immigrants’ lives in Hong Kong, and tried to explain their drug use.

The young Nepalese came to Hong Kong as immigrants in search of better living conditions. Tang called the immigrants’ goal the “Lahure project”, referring to the image of a successful returnee, and indicating immigration was a farsighted decision. A significant proportion of the GDP of Nepal comes from immigrants who have provided labor globally since 1990. Migrants themselves are respected and have high social status.

Tang pointed out, however, that due to a number of social and cultural reasons, in Nepal public attitudes towards the Lahure migrants have changed in recent years. Children of Lahure families are often viewed as spoiled. In 2005, the Nepalese government even banned Lahure from joining the army.

Only a small percentage of Nepalese could afford to come to Hong Kong, which was considered a desirable place to live, creating high expectations in immigrants. The barriers for Nepalese coming to Hong Kong have increased since the 1997 handover (some even later said the Nepalese were “cockroaches” left by British on purpose). At the same time, the Nepalese also could not entirely assimilate into the Hong Kong society. Like in Nepal, structural barriers in Hong Kong also emerged in the public discourses, which accused Nepalese of being destructive to the social order of Hong Kong. 

This awkward identity of being accepted neither by Nepal nor Hong Kong made their life contradictory as a result. Tang raised an example of a Nepalese student, Rahm, who was studying in an immigrant school in Hong Kong. Rahm on one hand was excluded from Hong Kong mainstream society, but on the other hand he still held the idea of freedom and human rights and enjoyed his freedom in the school in Hong Kong. Tang argued that drug use became a way Rahm and his classmates gained social respect and self-esteem.

XUE Cheng
M.Phil Candidate

Friday, November 9, 2012

Invited Seminar: Rumors about Chinese Convict Laborers in Developing Countries

Dr. YAN Hairong
Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
"A New Metaphor of China? Rumors about Chinese Convict Laborers in Developing Countries" 
2 Nov 2012 

Dr. YAN Hairong of the Dept. of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Politechnic University, presented a talk entitled “A New Metaphor of China? Rumors about Chinese Convict Laborers in Developing Countries.” She examined a rumor that has become especially virulent since 2010, one that says Chinese workers in the large construction and infrastructure projects in Africa are prison laborers. She showed that these rumors are false, and are in part the result of misperceptions of Chinese workers’ uniforms, discipline, long work hours, rapid work pace, and the fact that they often go out in groups. The talk showed that many of those spreading the rumors have political motives and use the rumor to criticize China. She concluded by suggesting that the rumor was a metaphor for China’s authoritarianism, abundance of prisoners (although the US has a higher percentage of its population incarcerated), “slave labor”, hazardous exports (with criminals as a new kind of export), and colonialism.

Interested readers can read her China Quarterly article, written jointly with Barry Sautman.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Upcoming Seminar: Culture as the Most Important Influence on Human Development

"Culture as the Most Important Influence on Human Development"

Speaker: Thomas S. WEISNER
Professor, Department of Anthropology and Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences (NPI Semel Institute), UCLA
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 9 November 2012
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

If we could know just one fact about a young child that would be the single most important influence on that child's life, the cultural place on earth where that child is going to grow up is, even today, arguably the most important single predictor of a child's developmental pathway, though of course not the only one. Multiple and sibling caretaking of children remains widespread and influences responsibility, nurturance, and social intelligence; co-sleeping with infants and young children is a phyletic universal and widely considered normative; early attachment processes are variable, and influenced by both cultural and biosocial mechanisms starting in infancy. Along with resources, family structure differences, and other institutional and religious systems, these practices all challenge assumptions in much of current Western developmental psychology and encourage anthropological studies of children that incorporate the moral direction and cultural meaning of development into studies of the well-being of children and families.


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