Friday, August 29, 2014

[Indian Culture Workshop 2013-2014] Visit to Sikh Temple

The Sikh Temple located in Wan Chai

From time to time in Hong Kong, we see Indian men wearing a turban called a dastar.  The dastar is an important part of Sikh culture, representing the values of spirituality, honor, piety, and courage.  

To give the Indian Culture Workshop participants a chance to learn more about Sikh culture, the Indian Cultural Workshop and the 6th Postgraduate Anthropology forum committee co-organized a visit to the Hong Kong’s only Sikh Temple in January 2014.

This temple (or gurdwara) in Hong Kong acts as a religious institute, as well as a community center.  Followers can come to the temple for documents and translation services.  They may also join the weekend classes organized by the temple, which range from computer classes for adults to tutorial classes for school children.

Unlike Sikhs in Hong Kong, Sikhs in India only go to historic temples rather than religious temples.  Historic temples can only be built at the places visited by at least one of the Ten Gurus of Sikh; while religious temples, like the one in Hong Kong, are built solely for religious purposes.

For the Sikhs, the gurdwara is where life rituals and important ceremonies are held. These include baptism, marriage, and religious festivals.  Before entering the prayer room, followers should cover their head with a scarf to show respect.  Once inside, everyone should sit on the floor, whether they are men or women, priest or follower.  The practice acknowledges the belief in Sikh teachings that everyone is equal.

Sharing with the community is one of the core teachings in Sikhism.  The free kitchen or langar is a signature public service.  Visitors to the temple become the special guests of the temple. The temple serves meals to them every day, Sikhs or non-Sikhs alike.  To ensure people with different dietary restriction can eat as equals, only vegetarian meals are served.

Click the label "Indian Cultural Workshop" below if you want to read more.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Friday Seminars Schedule (Fall 2014)

Welcome back for a new academic year! 
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 (NAH), New Asia College, CUHK. [Updated on Oct. 3, 2014: The Venue for all upcoming seminars will be changed to NAH 12]

*Note 1: The seminar on 5 Sept. will be held at Room 12, Humanities Building (NAH), New Asia College, CUHK. 
*Note 2: The seminar on 16 Sept. (TUE) will be held at Lecture Theater 5, Yasumoto International Academic Park (YIA), CUHK from 4:30 to 6:15 pm.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: International Conference on the "Historical Imprints of Lingnan: Major Archaeological Discoveries of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao"

Remember Dr. Mick Atha, the adjunct assistant professor in our department, was invited to participate in the Historical Imprints of Lingnan Conference at the Hong Kong Museum of History?  The conference was held at the last weekend and Dr. Atha's talk was well-received.  Dr. Atha wrote some words for all the readers about the conference and the associated exhibition:

"The conference offered a fascinating overview of discoveries and debates in Lingnan archaeology spanning the palaeolithic to the late Ming dynasty. The conference was well attended by the Hong Kong public, local scholars, and students including some currently in the Department of Anthropology as well as a good number of alumni who maintain a keen interest in archaeology and continue to be involved in archaeological research through my fieldwork projects. It was very good to see so many friendly faces in the audience when I presented the San Tau results. 
The associated exhibition is beautifully presented and contains some really special objects never before seen on display together. There are also a series of very informative interpretation panels throughout the exhibition, which offer fascinating insights into past lifeways in Lingnan, as well as different archaeological sites and the innovative methodologies used in their investigation. It is one of the best exhibitions I've seen, although I am a little biased as it contains some things discovered during my San Tau research! The exhibition closes at the end of this month and I would urge any interested students who have not already been to take this opportunity to view and contextualise Hong Kong's archaeological discoveries in their wider Lingnan setting. The Proceedings are on sale at the Museum for just $45HK - a bargain I think."
-Dr. Mick Atha 
You may find more information about the conference in our earlier blog post.

The associated exhibition is scheduled to be closed at September 1, 2014. For details, please visit the website of Hong Kong Museum of History.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Anthropologists on the Road Series(5): Liyuan Houses-- And a Diminishing Neighbourhood in the Chinese Coastal Metropolis of Qingdao

"...Qingdao is famous for its beer, its beaches, its beautiful scenery, its romantic European architecture: "Dwell in Qingdao, experience the world" reads the slogan of a local urban developer.  Quite contrart to this picturesque image and rarely mentioned in promotional material about Qingdao is the type of housing that I live in, the so-called Liyuan..."
- Philip Demgenski 
Philipp Demgenski, the PhD candidate in our department, was conducting his PhD fieldwork at Qingdao about Liyuan last year.  Liyuan is a housing type which "generally resemble the traditional northern Chinese Siheyuan", both Liyuan and Siheyuan "are relatively secluded from the outside but offer a large communal space within".  

The stakeholders have different comments on Liyuan.  Some considered Liyuan is "dirty and messy",  a place "where the lowest people live" and "incompatible with today's modern city life", while other suggested that Liyuan is "unique to Qingdao" and the "truly local heritage".  It brings out a "very fundamental" question, which also applies to Hong Kong nowadays, "What is good urban development and who should benefit from it?"

To discover the full story, please click here and read Phillip Demgenski's article "Liyuan Houses-- And a Diminishing Neighbourhood in the Chinese Coastal Metropolis of Qingdao'" published in Hong Kong Discovery (Vol 80), Anthropologists on the Road Series.

To read the related Qingdao Daily report covered by our blog, please click here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Academic Counseling Session for the Undergraduate freshmen 2014

The UG student society members were welcoming the freshmen.

The Academic Counseling Session for the Undergraduate freshmen 2014 was held on August 14, 2014 at LSK 301.  Many practical and useful information is shared within the Session, including Exchange Programme, Academic Advice, Chinese University Student Information System (CUSIS) and the Orientation Camp 2014.  Hopefully, the freshmen could have a glimpse of the fruitful university life in CUHK after the session.

Heidi, Colleague from OAL, was introducing the exchange programmes in CUHK.
Student was sharing her exchange experience in Finland.
Professor Maria Tam, the UG Academic Advisor in our department, was giving the freshmen advice.
The freshmen were concentrating to the speakers' words.
Tommy, the representative of  the UG student society, was giving tips on course registration and the CUSIS.
The freshmen seized the chance to ask for advice.
  For the academic advice offered by Professor Tam, please click here to see more.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Words from the New Department Chairperson

Professor Sidney Cheung
(Photo Credit: ISO, CUHK)

After five years of service, Professor Sidney Cheung has completed his term as the Department Chairperson .  Professor Gordon Mathews is appointed the new Chairperson with effect from August 1, 2014.

Professor Gordon Mathews

 The new Chairperson, Professor Mathews, has written some words for all the readers:

As the new chairperson, I hope to follow the legacy of Prof. Tan and Prof. Cheung, in striving to make the Department's teaching and research even better than it already is.  At the same time, however, I'll work to make sure that the Dept. never loses its sense of intimacy, so that it can continue to feel like a family.  That's of extraordinary importance. 
This fall, Prof. Tracey Lu is on leave, and a new teacher, Prof. Sharon Wong, is teaching archaeology courses.  We all hope and pray that Tracey will return to teach in the future, but meanwhile, we trust that Sharon will offer some lively classes for students.
If you are a student, we hope that you are looking forward to the new school year beginning in September.  If you are an alumnus, stop by the Dept. sometime, and say hello to us all.  It's your Department too!  For anyone reading this, please come to our Friday Seminars most Fridays at 12:30.  The schedule will soon be on the web: we welcome your presence. 
          Best regards,
          Gordon Mathews
          Chairperson, Dept. of Anthropology

If you want to know more about Professor Mathews, please click here to visit his department homepage.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Seminar Review: Brown University International Advanced Research Institute on Ethnic Conflict and Inequality

Dr. Paul James O'Connor
Photo Credit: Rythum Vinoben
Dr. Paul James O'Connor, the adjunct assistant professor in our department, has participated in Brown University International Advanced Research Institute (BIARI) on Ethnicity Conflict and Inequality in June, 2014. Here is Dr. O'Connor's review:

"This June I was fortunate enough to participate in the Brown University International Advanced Research Institute on Ethnic Conflict and Inequality. This was a unique event that brought together a variety of academics from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas to engage with debate and discussion with a host of visiting faculty at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies.
Our convenors for the institute were Professor Ashutosh Varshney and Professor Glenn Loury. They shared their own expertise and were superb and generous hosts throughout. Professor Loury’s research on race stigma and incarceration in the United States was one of the highlights of the event. For my own research and teaching on ethnicity I found enormous value in the research that was presented. I recommend Loury’s Race, Incarceration, and American Values which is a complimentary piece to Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow."

Group photo of the Brown University International Advanced Research Institute on Ethnic Conflict and Inequality
Photo Credit: Rythum Vinoben

"One of my aims in participating in the Ethnicity institute at BIARI was to be able to engage with comparative research to explore issues of ethnicity in Hong Kong further. In recent years the issue of ethnicity in Hong Kong has come under a double focus. The often marginal position of ethnic minorities has become an increasing concern that is being tackled by, amongst others, academics, students, educators, and NGOs. Also the debate about Hong Kong citizenship and identity has also made the issue of ethnic and national identity, ethnic conflict, and inequality a topical issue in the territory. The BIARI was a unique and valuable forum to explore these ideas with peers from very different settings. Ultimately the BIARI provided me with new knowledge to impart to students in my ethnicity course."

You may follow Dr. O'Connor at tumblr.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In the Press: Cross-Border Mothers Lost In Two Social Systems

Dr, Wai-chi Chee, Lecturer in our department, has researched on Cross-Border Mothers, which aims to analyse the conflict between Hong Kong and Mainland China from the Cross-Border Mothers' perspective. The research was recently reported in two articles.

《在兩個社會系統裡迷失的跨境媽媽》 劉潔珊

“…徐渭芝採訪了大概40個阿寶這樣的跨境媽媽。她的報告 說,很多跨境母親都後悔來港生子,甚至還想一死了之。徐渭芝說香港政府當初為了刺激經濟而鼓勵內地孕婦來港生子的時候,並沒有預想到今天的情況,這是行政失當。在報告中還提到一個母親說:有時候我的兒子很吵,吵到了收留我們的親戚。我當然會跟兒子說,可他只有三歲,什麼都不懂。我打他,他反而哭得更厲害。有一次他哭鬧不斷,我就瘋了…”


“Cross-Border Mothers Lost In Two Social Systems” Shako Liu

“…Chee interviewed about 40 cross-border families in her study. Regret is prominent among them, many even have a death wish. The ambiguity of the One-Child Policy falls into interpretation of local governments. Some women she interviewed said they also paid a fine to the local government for having a second child in Hong Kong. Chee said the Hong Kong government didn’t envision the problems when they opened the door for the women to give birth in Hong Kong as a way to boost the economy after SARS in 2003. 
In Chee’s report, one of the mothers said, “Sometimes my son makes noise. The relatives whom we are staying with are annoyed. I talk to my son but he is too young to understand. He is only three. I hit him and he cries even louder. Once I went totally crazy as he cried and cried. To make him stop crying…

To read the whole article, please click here.
For details of Dr. Chee’s research, please check the information here. (Chinese only)

[Publication] Hong Kong Muslims on Hajj: Rhythms of the Pilgrimage 2.0 and Experiences of Spirituality Among Twenty-First Century Global Cities

The new article "Hong Kong Muslims on Hajj: Rhythms of the Pilgrimage 2.0 and Experiences of Spirituality Among Twenty-First Century Global Cities" from Dr. Paul James O'Connor, the adjunct assistant professor in our department, has just been published by the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. The article is the written up research from Dr. O'Connor's talk on Hong Kong Muslims and the pilgrimage to Mecca at the Hong Kong Anthropological Association in October, 2013. 

here to view the whole article. 
(Please be reminded that this is a free link for the first 50 views. If the link of free views has expired, staff and students from CUHK could access the article via the library system.)

The pilgrimage to Mecca is an often-overlooked topic in the study of Muslim minorities. This work looks at the experiences of Muslims in Hong Kong who make up a multi-ethnic community situated in a densely populated urban metropolis in China. As a small community, these Muslims are free from the constraints of the hajj quota system that most countries are subjected to. The organisation and experiences of these pilgrims is contrasted with recent developments in Mecca, including urban development and communications infrastructure to serve the pilgrims. The twenty-first century hajj, as “pilgrimage 2.0”, characterises some of the contemporary challenges that modern hajj poses. These insights are contrasted with Lefebvre's concept of rhythmanalysis to highlight themes of permanence and change. In addressing the similarities of both Mecca and Hong Kong as “global cities”, the experiences of Hong Kong Muslims are made distinct.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Professor Gordon Mathews's book "Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong" (Chinese version translated by our alumna Ms. Yang Yang) is awarded the 7th Hong Kong Book Prize, which is an award co-organised by RTHK, Hong Kong Publishing Federation and Hong Kong Public Libraries. For details of the book, please check the information here.


Photo taken at the 7th Hong Kong Book Prize Ceremony
From left to right: Mr. Gary Leung, Professor Gordon Mathews, Ms. Yang Yang
(Photo by Red Publish)