Mr. Wyman TANG
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, CUHK
"Nepalese Drug Users in Hong Kong: Ethnicity, Transnationalism, and Marginalization"
19 Oct 2012
provided a rich ethnographic picture of Nepalese young immigrants’ lives in
Hong Kong, and tried to explain their drug use.
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.
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.
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.