Friday, April 22, 2016

[Event] Final Year Project (FYP) Forum 2016

The FYP Forum is a platform for undergraduate students to present their final year research projects on a topic of their choice. In the project, students would demonstrate their ability in applying concepts, theories and skills they have learnt in their years of anthropology study. This year, the forum will be held on Apr 27, 2016 (Wednesday) at 14:0018:00 at NAH 12

There will be 26 presentations on diverse topics, including "Archaeology & Artifacts", "Work & Identity", "Food & Taste", "Coming of Age in Hong Kong", "Pop Culture & Consumption", "Making Gender", and "Meaning & Life Course". After the student presentations, we have also invited Allie Kwong, our alumni, to give a keynote speech on "How is Anthropology Relevant in the Workplace?"

All interested are welcome. Undergraduate students of other years are recommended to attend the forum since it can give them better understanding of their capstone course and inspire them of more anthropological research topics.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] Propertied Migrants and ‘Citizens of Becoming’ in Urban China

Propertied Migrants and ‘Citizens of Becoming’ in Urban China

Speaker: HO Cheuk Yuet (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Time: 1:00–2:30 pm, 22 Apr 2016 (Friday)
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


In this seminar, I shall discuss the changing meaning of urban citizenship from the vantage point of rural migrants. This is a new generation of “conscious” migrant noncitizens, who are constructing a strong sense of urban belongingness but without considering an urban huji even of relevance and significance to their personhood and pursuit of well-being. Instead, property ownership is pervasively deemed the single most important factor in determining their life chances. Likewise, the majority of rural families now constantly resist and ridicule government effort of nongzhuanfei (conversion of household status from rural to non-rural) as a prelude to depriving them of their rural land interests.

I shall focus on the experiences and discourses of a number of better educated and more affluent rural migrants, who variously aspire and strategize to urbanize or refuse to be urbanized. I shall attempt to illustrate that, being a Chinese urban citizen is no longer necessarily a meaningfully delineated category and status, but itself a dynamic process and paradoxical contestation of subject formation and identity of becoming.


(A light lunch will be served at 12:30 pm. First come first served.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

[Virtual Museum] Masks and Tibetan culture

The Virtual Museum at the Department of Anthropology, CUHK, offers the public a digital exhibition of ethnographic collections and archaeological artifacts collected by the teachers and students of the Department over the last three decades. Theme of current exhibition is "Masks and Tibetan culture". To view more displayed exhibits, please visit the website of Virtual Museum.


Masks and Tibetan culture

Anthropologists have been interested in studying masks and their rich symbolic content in various cultures and contexts. Masks have been used to conceal, transform, and represent identities (Pollock 1995:584). They not only represent or originate from positive images, but also reveal what the community disapproves of (Lévi-Strauss 2013:6). The characters they represent, or even the colors they use, may reflect their belief and classification of sacredness and profanity.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, a notable French anthropologist, studied the masks of the Salish, Nootka, and Kwakiutl, and wrote the book The Way of the Masks. He believed that every type of mask is connected with its own myth, which provides an explanation on its origin and supernatural power, and assures its value in the ceremonial, economic and social aspect of the society (Lévi-Strauss 2013:14).

Take Tibetan masks as an example: Tibet has a great variety of masks, which can be divided into three major categories: masks for Chams (religious dances), hanging masks and masks for operas. The Tibetan masks used for Chams and operas are heavily colored by totemism, and the masks of a cow, tiger, dragon and phoenix are imitations of the scared figures of their religion (Huarui 1998:112). The “Tibetan Twelve Masks”, which can be found in Sichuan, China, are commonly used in a Tibetan dance called caogai wu. During important ceremonial events, the Tibetans will perform this dance and play drums and gongs. They will wear wooden masks representing various animals and characters. The dance performance can take place at various locations, for example, on the roads, by lakes, and at gathering places. There are as many as 40 ways to perform the dance. The dance with these twelve masks is a gesture of Tibetan people to pray for peace and stability. While dancing, they also sing the “Song of Liquor” as a toast to guests and to recall past times.

Monday, April 18, 2016

[Friday Seminar Recap] Heigui: Prejudice Towards Africans and Its Implication for a Changing China

Heigui: Prejudice Towards Africans and Its Implication for a Changing China

Speaker: LIN Dan, Linessa (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 1 Apr 2016 (Friday)
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

Lin Dan, our department PhD candidate, gave a seminar on “Heigui: Prejudice Towards Africans and Its Implication for a Changing China” on Apr 1. Lin had been conducting research on African migrants in China, and she carried out her fieldwork in Guangzhou, which is a multi-ethic hub for internal and international migrants.

Lin defined prejudice as a form of antipathy originates from a faulty and inflexible generalization. She focused on prejudice against sub-Saharan Africans in China, who are traders, teachers, students, and housewives. These people were attracted to the country by its genial visa policy and the renowned reputation of China as a “world factory”. Guangzhou, in particular, as a hub for cross-border trade, attracted a lot of Africans and Arab traders.

Despite the fact that some Africans had high school degree and a middle class background, they had been prejudiced in China as cheaters, criminals, law breakers, drug dealers, rapists, overstayers, and uneducated and destitute people. Many Chinese also regarded marrying Africans as a type of marry down. These negative perceptions were often created out of miscommunication and faulty imagination.

As Lin mentioned, the prejudice against Africans was partly a consequence of Chinese limited knowledge of Africa, Africans and African cultures. The negative reports on Africans disseminated by the mass media also influenced people simultaneously. In addition, Lin talked about the discourse of skin colour (that yellow skin is more superior than black skin, and black represents negative characters like laziness) which had been frequently used by the Chinese to draw boundaries among nationalities. Many Chinese also stuck to the historical impression that China gave aids to Africa, without realizing the progress that Africa had gone through.

Seminar attendees

Lin, towards the end of the seminar, discussed the uncertain future of the dynamics between Chinese and the Africans in China. China may develop into an immigrant society with foreigners residing in the country whereas Chinese going overseas. It is also possible that the increasingly strict control of Chinese government and its unclear residential policies for foreigners, in addition to the lack of knowledge of African cultures and miscommunication in the society, will lead to the loss of Africans in the country.

Friday, April 15, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] Health and Social Activism of Self-Identified Gay Men in Postsocialist China

Health and Social Activism of Self-Identified Gay Men in Postsocialist China

Speaker: Prof. Zheng Tiantian (Anthropology, State University of New York, Cortland)
Date and Time: 25 April 2016 (Mon), 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Venue: Lecture Theatre 7, Yasumoto International Academic Park (YIA, LT7), The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Based on ethnographic research on self-identified gay men in Northeast China, this talk addresses the ways in which these men worked in collaboration with, rather than against, the state. Deploying and appropriating the state-endorsed AIDS cause, they drew on the dominant moral order as a legitimate resource to attempt to infuse gay activism while still seeking legitimacy in the mainstream culture. They believed that by declaring that elimination of homophobia was essential to curb AIDS transmission, they used AIDS activism to provide legitimacy for their gay activism.

Tiantian Zheng is Professor of Anthropology at State University of New York, Cortland (Yale University Ph.D.). She is author and co-author of nine books, including Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China (Minnesota 2009), Winner of the 2010 Sara A. Whaley Book Prize from the National Women’s Studies Association, and Ethnographies of Prostitution in Contemporary China, Winner of the 2011 Research Publication Book Award from the Association of Chinese Professors of Social Sciences in the United States.

Register at:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

[HKAS Seminar] Environmental Consciousness in Western China

Environmental Consciousness in Western China

Speaker: Edwin Schmitt (Doctoral candidate, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)  
Date and time: 21 April 2016, 7:00 p.m. 
Venue: Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, Hong Kong Museum of History, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui


As with many places in the world, it is commonly assumed that environmentalism in China is associated with middle class values. By drawing from many years of ethnographic research and a social survey of 246 households, it becomes apparent that a so-called environmental consciousness in Chengdu, China is not the exclusive domain of the well-off. This lecture will examine both environmental perceptions and actions to formulate a more nuanced understanding of how urban residents in Chengdu are engaging with the non-human world in their everyday lives.

Edwin Schmitt is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His past research interests included commodification of agriculture, linkages between agricultural and religious systems, ethnic tourism and hydropower development in Southwest China. For his dissertation research he is currently conducting research on environmental consciousness in Chengdu.

Following the talk, you are invited to a self-paying dinner with the speaker.

For more information, please contact Stan Dyer on 9746 9537 or

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] Global Risks and Local Spectacle: Ethnography of Film and TV Production

Global Risks and Local Spectacle: Ethnography of Film and TV Production

Speaker: Sylvia J. MARTIN (Assistant Professor, Sociology Department, The University of Hong Kong)
Time: 12:30–2:00 pm, 15 Apr 2016 (Friday)
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


This talk draws from anthropological research I conducted in Hollywood and Hong Kong on the production of commercial film and television. Based on participant observation on film and television sets I argue that production personnel such as camera operators, actors, and directors are not immune to the spectacular images and themes they conjure and convey to audiences. Less explored in media and film studies, ethnography of the production process of narrative film and television reveals that the work of filming dangerous stunts and graphic death scenes are for some media workers exciting and pleasurable, for others harrowing, and for many of them an affective engagement with their craft. Anthropology’s attention to meaning-making in production sites helps us better understand creative labor.


(A light lunch will be served at 12:30 pm. First come first served.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] 燕窩之"補" — 燕窩的社會生命與效力

燕窩之"補" — 燕窩的社會生命與效力

講者: 余昕 (香港中文大學人類學系博士候選人)
時間: 二零一六年四月八日(星期五)下午一時正至二時三十分
地點: 新亞書院人文館401室