Thursday, January 31, 2013

Call for Papers: Oxford Migration Studies Society 1st Annual Conference

Our Alumni Ka-kin Cheuk, now a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Oxford and chair the Oxford Migration Studies Society, is organizing the society’s inaugural graduate student conference in migration studies. The theme of the conference is “Migration: Theory and Practices.” It aims to create a cross-disciplinary platform for academics and practitioners, as well as graduate students and senior scholars, to exchange views on cutting-edge migration-related topics. The Society welcomes papers about migration in any region of the world, and from all disciplines that use various methodologies.

Oxford Migration Studies Society 1st Annual Conference-Migration: Theory and Practices

Time:4 May 2013
Venue: University of Oxford
Submission Deadline: 9 Feb 2013

About the Society
The Oxford Migration Studies Society is a not-for-profit, student-run, graduate studies society that includes in its membership students from all disciplines across University of Oxford who share an interest in Migration. Two of the society’s central tenets are:
--- To build networks across institutional and disciplinary boundaries
--- To generate dialogue both between universities but, equally of importance, amongst universities and practitioners

The Oxford Migration Studies Society presents its 1st Annual Conference as a first step to realizing the important goal of connecting academic scholarship to real-world practice.

The Oxford Migration Studies Society Conference

The Oxford Migration Studies Society 1st Annual Conference to be held Saturday, 4 May 2013, provides an interdisciplinary forum that hopes to connect scholars and practitioners with an interest in migration from around the world. This year’s conference, themed ‘Theory and Practice’, will explore different approaches to understanding migration as a fundamental part of today’s world, highlight the way practice can inform theory, and discuss how academic theory can be used in real-world situations to understand the importance of migration for all involved. The Society welcomes papers from all disciplines and practitioners around the world and papers can focus on the migration experience from the state’s perspective, the migrant’s perspective, the migration industry’s perspective in sending and receiving countries as well as on the journey. The Society encourages the submission of papers about migration in any region in the world and which use various methodologies.

Submission abstracts are due on Saturday, 9 February 2013. Full papers will be due Sunday, 31 March 2013. Please send all submissions to Oxford Migration Studies Society at Include in the subject heading: Conference Submission – your name – title of your paper. Please note that the word limit for abstract is 200 words.
Accepted presenters will be put in contact with distinguished professors from Oxford International Migration Institute (IMI)Center for Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), and the Refugee Studies Center (RSC) for feedback and comments on their submissions.


The conference will be held in Oxford, United Kingdom

Contact Oxford Migration Studies Society for any further questions:
All submissions are to be submitted at: Include in the subject heading: Conference Submission – your name – title of your paper.

Travel Bursary

Partial travel funding will be granted to student and practitioner participants. Please download the funding application and submit the application along with your abstract before Saturday, 9 February 2013.
Oxford Migration Studies Society 1st Annual Conference- Migration: Theory and Practices

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Invited Seminar: 環南中國海區域研究

Prof. MA Guoqing 麻國慶 教授
Chairperson, Anthropology Department, Sun Yat-sen University 

"環南中國海區域研究— 海南島的文化、族群與社會 "
11 January 2012





Saturday, January 26, 2013

Upcoming Seminar: Sympathy, Injury, and Quackery

"Sympathy, Injury, and Quackery: A Political Economy of Hope in Contemporary China"

Speaker :Trang X. TA
Lecturer, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, and
Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Hong Kong

Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 1 February 2013
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


What are the calculations individuals make in order to secure health and a livelihood? This talk traces three ethnographic cases to explicate an index of risk, life, and value in late-reform China. The first case recounts the narrative of one family from the countryside who came to Beijing to secure medical attention for their young son with leukemia. This family is one of countless cases of individuals and families deploying various strategies such as public charity or media attention to afford medical care within a rapidly commercializing health care system. The second case explores the 上访 “shangfang” (to visit a high official to air a grievance) process and how petitioners also take narrating of abuse, personal indignity, and suffering to the streets. Beijing is in many ways the last resort for these petitioners and their testimonies are symptomatic of citizen-subjects caught in a moral stasis between an equivocating bureaucratic system and a nascent legal system. The third case is of a healer operating a community clinic offering Chinese medicine treatments. As a practitioner with dubious medical training, he offers affordable care in the margins of institutionalized medicine. Each of these cases serves to illustrate how a political economy of hope operates in an environment of precariousness.

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

Friday, January 25, 2013

Publication: Cosmetic Surgery in China

Our PhD alumna WEN Hua has publlished her PhD thesis as a book: Buying Beauty: Cosmetic Surgery in China.

About the Book

Cosmetic surgery in China has grown rapidly in recent years of dramatic social transition. Facing fierce competition in all spheres of daily life, more and more women consider cosmetic surgery as an investment to gain “beauty capital” to increase opportunities for social and career success.

Building on rich ethnographic data, this book presents the perspectives of women who have undergone cosmetic surgery, illuminating the aspirations behind their choices. Wen Hua explores how turbulent economic, sociocultural, and political changes in China since the 1980s have produced immense anxiety that is experienced both mentally and corporeally. This book will appeal to readers who are interested in gender studies, China studies, anthropology and sociology of the body, and cultural studies.

About the Author  

Wen Hua received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has worked in academia and international organizations in the field of gender and development.


"China is undergoing significant socio-economic, cultural as well as political changes. It offers an opportunity to examine how people develop their new perspective of what constitutes beauty, how they would work on their bodies in order to respond to new expectations and the new socio-economic environment, and how the socialist state is loosening its grip on the ordinary people. This book offers its readers the excitement of looking at social transformation in China." — Tai-lok Lui, the University of Hong Kong

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In the Press: Anthropologist in Chungking Mansion

In this short video produced by RTHK, Prof. Gordon Mathews talks about Chungking Mansions, globalization, and what is anthropology. "That [Anthropology] is fun to do... You can have all kinds of adventures in that way. So, I am pretty happy," said Prof. Mathews.

Grad School Life: Les Misérables?

The 5th Postgraduate Student Forum Anthropology in Asia: Conceptions, Perspectives and Debates was successfully held on 18-19 Jan. We hope everyone had a good time at the forum and went back to the study recharged.

PhD Comics recently depicted another aspect of the postgraduate life in the series "Les (Really) Miserables (Grad School Edition)." Is it also reflecting your situation? Hope not!

Please feel free to sing along (in the office).

Part I  I Dreamed a Dream

There was a time when professors were kind
When their praises were soft and their words were inviting
There was a time when it all seemed exciting
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream my senior year
When grades when high and life was easy
I dreamed my grad degree was near
And that one day would be leaving

But I was young and had no clue
And time was spent, procrastinated.
Now there’s no data I can use
No thesis done, my youth now wasted

And reviewers comment back
With their red pens bleeding edits
As they tear your graphs apart
As they turn your pages to shame! To shame!

I had a dream grad school would be
So different from this mess I’m living.
So different now from what it seemed
And still I have
No PhD…

For the rest of the series, please visit PhD Comics

Monday, January 21, 2013

Publication: Globalization from Below

Prof. Gordon Mathews in our department co-edited Globalization from Below: The World's Other Economy with Gustavo Lins Ribeiro and Carlos Alba Vega. This book explores globalization as actually experienced by most of the world’s people, buying goods from street vendors brought by traders moving past borders and across continents under the radar of the law. Previously, Prof. Gordon Mathews has also discussed this topic in great ethnographic details in his book Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions.

Book Description
The dimensions and practices of ‘globalization from below’ are depicted and analyzed in detail by a team of international scholars. Topics covered include the ‘New Silk Road’, African traders in China, street hawking in Calcutta and pirate CDs in Mexico. The chapters provide intimate portrayals of routes, markets and people in locations across the globe and explore theories that can help make sense of these complex and fascinating case studies. Students of globalization, economic anthropology and developing-world economics will find the book invaluable.


‘The word globalization summons up images of transnational corporations and internet-savvy human rights campaigners. This important book brings to our attention a wholly different and quite fascinating phenomenon - vast webs of traders, travelers, and marketers, crossing borders and transforming economies and societies from the bottom up.’ - Josiah Heyman, University of Texas at El Paso, USA

‘This is globalization not readily accessible to official inspection or conventional measurements. But ethnographers get to it - and here they show its importance in the emergent world society.’ - Ulf Hannerz, Stockholm University, Sweden, and author of Anthropology's World

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Hominid Rap Video

For students who are taking biological/physical anthropology but struggling with all the hominid species, you might want to check out this video: The Hominid Rap Video, written and sang by Lauren W Hasten, produced by Andrew Pray, raps out the history of ancient humans and pre-humans (up to and including Homo erectus) in eight minutes. "It's the perfect study guide for your introductory biological/physical anthropology class," said Andrew Pray.

Enjoy it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Conference: Foodways and Heritage

Prof. Eugene Anderson gives keynote speech
On 3rd-5th January 2013, the department co-organized the International Conference on Foodways and Heritage: A Perspective of Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage with Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the University of Tours, France. Scholars from different regions and various disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, history, and gender studies, discussed the politics of foodways and heritage, in particular, how different kinds of food are produced, sustained and inherited while at the same time how they are preserved as intangible heritage for various reasons. Eugene N. Anderson, Professor Emeritus at University of California, Riverside, U.S.A, gave the keynote speech "Learning is Like Chicken Feet: Assembling the Chinese food system." A roundtable was particularly devoted to French cuisine, as a response to the UNESCO's decision of adding "gastronomic meal of the French" to the "intangible cultural heritage of humanity."

Group photo in a preserved meat shop in Sheung Wan
The conference included field trips that showed two distinct scenes of foodways in Hong Kong. The field trip in the morning walked the participants through the Nam Pak Hong in Sheung Wan, where dried food from all over the world has been traded since the mid-19th century. It is this neighborhood that made Hong Kong a successful and important trading hub over the last century. The traditional features of trading can still be seen today. 

In the afternoon, the group visited a Freshwater Fish farm in Tai San Wai, Yuen Long. In Hong Kong, over 90% of the freshwater fish farms are engaged in polyculture. The traditional operation of fishponds make important contributions to the local community and wildlife, in particular waterbirds, which demonstrates  the ‘wise use’ principle of wetland conservation, a way for both wildlife and humans to mutually benefit from the productivity of a wetland without compromising its vital ecological functions. 

Good food that conveys social and cultural messages of the local communities added more flavor to the conference. Over the three days, participants tasted authentic French food made by Cantonese chefs, cantonese Dim-sum lunch and country-style dinner in Yuen Long. In his concluding remarks, Prof. Eugene Anderson recalled the gastronomic landscape of Hong Kong in the 1960s, as well as the wonton he had in Yuen Long back then. The best wonton he had ever had so far, said Prof. Anderson.

*Proceedings of this conference will be published later this year. You can find more information of the conference on the conference website.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What Is Anthropology? This Is Anthropology!

What Is anthropology? This is probably the very question that bothers everybody in the field: freshmen, PhD students and even anthropologists. (Just think about the whole debate over whether anthropology is science.) It is even more so for people outside the descipline. Therefore, American Anthropological Association has established a website called "This Is Anthropology." On this website, you can learn more about the discipline of anthropology, use the interactive map to learn about anthropology projects in different parts of the world, explore the skills and careers anthropologists have, and find out how you can become an anthropologist. 

So what is anthropology? To cut a long story short, according to the Website, it is " the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Upcoming Seminar: 信任、認同與“他者”


Speaker : Prof. FAN Ke 范可 教授
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 25 January 2013
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK
Language: 普通话 Mandarin




Welcome to the Friday Seminars of Spring 2013

Welcome back for a new semester! 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. 

11 Jan.
麻國慶, 中山大學, 人類學系系主任

“環南中國海區域研究—海南島的 文 化 、 族 群 與 社 會 ." (普 通 話 主 講 )

25 Jan.
范可, 南京大學, 人類學研究所所長

“信任、認同與“他者"—關於族 群 、 民 族 的 一 些 思 考 ." (普 通 話 主 講 )

1 Feb.
Trang X. TA, Lecturer, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University in Canberra, and Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Hong Kong

“Sympathy, Injury, and Quackery: A Political Economy of Hope inContemporary China.”

1 Mar.
Chingchai METHAPHAT, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Education, Faculty of Public Health, Burapha University, Thailand

“I’m More Afraid of Having Nothing to Eat: How Thai Farmers Reframe Health Risk in Contexts of ChemicalUse in Fruit Production.”

8 Mar.
任珏, 香港中文大學, 性別研究及人類學系, 博士研究生

“信息社會的鄉土中國 ." (普 通 話 主 講)

19 Apr.
WU Kaming, Assistant Professor, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies,

“Spirit Medium in Communist Birthplace: Surrogate Rural Subjectivity, Discrete Sociality and the Changing Rural in China.”

26 Apr.
Mia SISCAWATI, Researcher, Sajogyo Institute, Indonesia, & Associate Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Indonesia, 

“‘Community Forestry’ Challenging ‘Scientific Forestry’: The Role of Progressive Academic Forestry Scholars in the Community Forestry Movement in Indonesia.”

Monday, January 7, 2013

Upcoming Seminar: 海南島的文化、族群與社會


Speaker : Prof. MA Guoqing 麻國慶 教授
Chairperson, Anthropology Department, Sun Yat-sen University 中山大學人類學系系主任
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 11 January 2013
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK
Language: 普通话 Mandarin


從歷史上看,錯綜複雜的族群交流和貿易往來使得環南中國海區域內部各地區之間的聯繫十分緊密,形成了多種網絡關係,在此基礎上生發出整體性與多樣性相結合的文化特性。自現代生產體系在此區域快速擴展以來,這種網絡和流動的關係又進一步加深,並日益複雜化。環南中國海的區域研究,實際上是一個抽取和剝離這種文化和社會網絡的過程,也就是說,從人出發的區域問題類型化研究是此區域研究開展的基本落腳點。 從華南走向環南中國海區域,就在於考察族群互動和文化交流背後建立起來的山地文明、河流文明與海洋文明之間的複雜關係。本文擬通過對海南島的田野調查,對環南中國海區域研究作人類學意義上的思考。


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Steelcase's Anthropologist On Remaking Offices To Create Happier Workers

“You text, you Gchat, you hop on Facebook--why? To communicate. Soon you find yourself turning the phone off, going invisible, and signing out of your social networks--why? To get some privacy, to gain some focus. The need to text is new, while the needs to make contact--and to find privacy--are old. Same old human nature thrown into constantly new contexts.”

Donna Flynn
Donna Flynn, an anthropologist, directs Steelcase's WorkSpace Futures, a 19-member independent research group to understand how these timely (and timeless) trends shape the ways we work. "So how can we think holistically about creating sustainable work environments and work practices for our people?" Flynn says.

To read more about how what are the changes of our workplaces, how they are affecting our well-being, and how an anthropologist makes contributions to these issues, please see the original article on Fast Company

Thursday, January 3, 2013

How Law Matters to the Taiwanese Police

How social forces are channeled into legal institutions? In the article  How Law Matters to the Taiwanese Police on Anthropology News. Jeffrey T Martin illustrates a cultural approach to this question with his ethnographic study on Taiwanese policing. Two years ago, he gave a related talk in our department on the historical formation of modern policing in Taiwan under Japanese colonial and Chinese authoritarian governments, exploring how this policing system has adapted to the island's democratic transition.

"When the police patrolmen I knew in Taiwan reflected on their experience working as agents of law enforcement, they frequently invoked a cultural ideal of balance between three primordial qualities of human sociality: qing (sentiment), li (reason) and fa (law). It was a defining idiom of their job, an idiom pedigreed by a thousand-year-old jurisprudential tradition and expressed in modern form through textbook techniques taught in the police college. "

Police propaganda billboard advertising goals for building a “Peaceful and Healthy Society.” This photograph was taken in Taiwan in the early 2000s. Photo courtesy Jeffrey T Martin

* Jeffrey T Martin is a cultural anthropologist working in the sociology department at the University of Hong Kong. He runs a policing seminar in Hong Kong that aspires, among other things, to contribute to the development of a comparative anthropology of policing (see