Tuesday, July 26, 2016

[“Multicultural Hong Kong in Celebration” Series] The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens: A Festival of Globalization

"This experience underlines the way the whole event is a liminal time and space, a ritual that produces communitas, or what rugby people call camaraderie."
—Joseph Bosco

Extract of the article:

"The Hong Kong Sevens has many meanings. Some spectators come for the party, others to enjoy the rugby, and some businesspeople use it also for networking. The Olympic Committee’s decision to include rugby Sevens in the Rio 2016 Games was heavily influenced by Hong Kong’s experience. The Olympic principles of fair play, equal competition, and no racial, religious, or political discrimination are exemplified by the Hong Kong Sevens. Hong Kong’s business culture led to the innovation and early acceptance of corporate sponsorship, a major change when the sport was still amateur. The Sevens - first held in 1976 - grew along with Hong Kong’s growth as a financial center. Thus it is globalization that has made the Hong Kong Sevens the ideal festival for expressing contemporary cosmopolitan and capitalist ideals and values, in what on the surface seems just an entertaining sporting event." (Bosco 2015:66)

Want to know more about the cultural values of Hong Kong Rugby Sevens? Click here and read the full text article (published in Hong Kong Discovery Vol. 87 on 12 Mar 2015).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

[“Multicultural Hong Kong in Celebration” Series] Durga Puja: an Indian festival in Hong Kong

"Durga Puja has become a multi-purpose occasion during which the Bengalis in Hong Kong bond as a community - through familiar smells, tastes and sounds, as well as through working together on marking a spiritual and social identity that is special to them and their next generation."
Siumi Maria Tam and Winsome Lee

Extract of the article:

"Durga Puja, or the worship of Durga, is one of the most important festivals in India, and the biggest religious occasion for the Bengalis. It is the time to commemorate the Hindu goddess Durga’s victory over the demon buffalo, and hence a celebration of victory of good over evil. In Sanskrit Durga means invincible or inaccessible, representing the power of the Supreme Being, and is worshipped as the divine mother who preserves moral order and righteousness. Durga Puja is celebrated differently in various regions of India, and the length of the festival may vary from four to ten days. The festival includes daily worship, chanting and fasting, with the last four days celebrated in grandeur and feasting. Everywhere in India, Durga devotees build an outdoor pandal, or altar, specifically for this important occasion. Inside the pandal sits a huge sculpture of the goddess - Durga is depicted as a warrior wearing red, riding a lion or tiger, and with her ten arms each carrying different weapons she overpowers the demon buffalo." (Tam and Lee 2015:62)

Want to know more about the Indian festival Durga Puja? Click here and read the full text article (published in Hong Kong Discovery Vol. 86 on 13 Jan 2015).

Thursday, July 14, 2016

[Virtual Museum] The Anthropological Meanings of Toys

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 "The Anthropological Meanings of Toys".

To view more displayed exhibits, please visit the website of Virtual Museum: http://arts.cuhk.edu.hk/~ant/museum/feature.php.

Toys are commonly regarded as objects for children to play with, which help children to explore their relationships with the world, and train them in the skills they need as they grow up. To anthropologists, toys also carry rich cultural meanings. Toys reflect the perceptions of different societies on the nature of childhood and playa perception about how children’s nature can be cultured. (Schwartzman 1978:9) They also reveal the economic, sociocultural, and technological transformations that a society has gone through. (Schwartzman 1978:9)

The variety of toys is large and highly diversified, ranging from miniatures of objects commonly seen in daily life (e.g. toy train), to distorted or imaginative ones beyond everyday experience (e.g. monster figures). (Sutton-Smith 1986:248,252) Many toys convey gender values, such as kitchen sets and dolls aimed at girls, while toy cars and guns are meant for boys. These toys socialize children of different sexes to behave and grow up in accordance with the gender expectations of society.

The possession of toys is related to ideas of consumption. They teach children meanings of buying and selling, and help them to learn “the materialistic culture habits”. (Sutton-Smith 1986:2) In fact toys are not only consumed by children, but also by adults. Toys, in adult’s collections, may acquire a different set of meanings. They may be collected for the purpose of investment or speculation, or for a nostalgic feeling that enables the owner to reconnect with the past through toys with the same leitmotif. (Bosco 2001:266; McVeigh 2000:225)

Under globalization, toys may be deterritorialized and reterritorialized, during which some original features of the toys are kept and new cultural elements are incorporated. This is done to promote the product in the new market, but simultaneously it may lead to challenges or integration of cultural meanings from the originating and the receiving societies.

The symbolic values and representations carried by toys are meaningful not only to the players themselves, but also to their societies and to anthropologists. As Sutton-Smith argued, “Toys, apparently the most minimal of our concerns, turn out to be intimately related to many larger cultural patterns in the family, technology, schools, and the marketplace.” (1986:253)


Bosco, Joseph. 2001. “The McDonald’s Snoopy Craze in Hong Kong” in Gordon Mathews and Lui Tai-lok, eds. Consuming Hong Kong, pp. 263-285. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

McVeigh, Brian J. 2000. “How Hello Kitty Commodifies the Cute, Cool and Camp: ‘Consumutopia’ versus ‘Control’ in Japan.” Journal of Material Culture 2000:225-245.

Schwartzman, Helen B. 1978. Transformations: The Anthropology of Children’s Play. New York and London: Plenum Press.

Sutton-Smith, Brian. 1986. Toys as Culture. New York: Gardner Press.

Monday, July 11, 2016

[SEAA Hong Kong Conference 2016] East Asia and Tomorrow's Anthropology

The SEAA Hong Kong Conference 2016 “East Asia and Tomorrow's Anthropology” was successfully held on 19-22 June, 2016 at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. We were honored to have Professor Leung Yuen Sang, the Dean of Arts, to give a speech at the opening ceremony.

Prof. Leung Yuen Sang, the Dean of Arts, giving the opening speech at the conference
After the ceremony, we had invited Dr. Huang Shu-min from Academic Sinica, Dr. Takami Kuwayama from Hokkaido University, Dr. Kwang Ok Kim from Shandong University, Dr. Gordon Mathews from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Ichiro Numazaki from Tohoku University, and Dr. Helen Siu from Yale University to hold a keynote panel and discuss on the topic “Overcoming the Gap between American Anthropology and East Asian Anthropologies”.

The keynote panel
More than 150 scholars coming from different countries presented their research at the conference. A total of 33 panels, focusing on various anthropological scopes such as identity, religion, gender, language, transnationalism, ethics, media, ecology, and medical practices, were organized. The panels had incited new dialogues on different anthropological topics.

Linessa, our PhD candidate, presenting her paper at the panel “Migrant Mobilities and Identities in East Asia: Ethnographic Inquiries into Subjectivities and Experiences”
Dr. Gordon Mathews and Leah, our MPhil graduate, having a musical performance at the welcoming banquet
The conference participants visited Chungking Mansions, the center of “low-end globalization” in Hong Kong, and had dinner in the restaurants inside the building
Three different field trips, respectively to the Big Buddha, to Hong Kong museums, and to Sham Shui Po and Shek Kip Mei, were also organized for the conference participants to know more about Hong Kong culture.

Marco and Man Kei, our PhD candidates, explaining to the conference participants the history and special features of Sham Shui Po

Last but not least, we would like to thank the keynote speakers, chairs and discussants of each panel, and all the participants who contributed to the success of this conference!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Call for Papers: The 9th Annual CUHK Postgraduate Student Forum

The 9th Annual CUHK Postgraduate Student Forum
“Engaged Asian Anthropology: Opportunities and Challenges”

The Department of Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, invites graduate students in Asia and elsewhere to present their current research at our 9th Postgraduate Student Forum: “Engaged Asian Anthropology: Opportunities and Challenges”. The Forum, to be held on 20-21 January 2017 (Friday and Saturday) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, will showcase the best of students’ contemporary research on Asia. 

Hong Kong is a global city, a major node for trade, investment, and the exchange of ideas. The Postgraduate Student Forum seeks to encourage the communication among young anthropologists in and of the East and Southeast Asian region, to help improve their research and to make the excellent research being conducted in Asia to be better known internationally. 

Presentations and Panels

We accept proposals for individual papers ONLY this year. Papers of different topics are welcome, ethnographic work preferred. Papers will then be organized into panels. Each paper presentation will last 15 minutes; PowerPoint and multimedia equipment will be provided. The language of the forum will be English. 

How to Apply

·       Please fill the form online (http://goo.gl/forms/00ZX2wtzMYEAC8lG2).

·       If you cannot access the online form, please download it here (http://arts.cuhk.edu.hk/~ant/pgforum/PGSF9Abstract.xlsx ). Complete the form, rename it as PGSF9 + your name + your university/affiliation, e.g. PGSF9 +Jack Chen + Boston University, and send it to anthforum@cuhk.edu.hk

·       Deadline for abstract submission is 15 September 2016
Forum Dates 

20-21 January 2017 (Friday and Saturday)  

For additional information, please contact us

Telephone: +852 3943 7670

Monday, July 4, 2016

[HKAS seminar] At the edge of sleep: Insomnia, Time and Social Lives in Hong Kong

Title: At the edge of sleep: Insomnia, Time and Social Lives in Hong Kong
Speaker: David Tong (M.Phil. research student, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Date and time: 7 July 2016, 7:00 p.m.
Venue: Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, Hong Kong Museum of History, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui


We all sleep; sleep is also commonly understood as an innate and private behavior devoid of socialization. Ethnographic studies of sleep in different societies however reveal its cultural variations. Together they join the force in questioning the 8 hours sleep, which is commonly naturalized and mythicized in post-industrial societies. Such a conceptual turn further invites us to reconsider the contemporary experiences of insomnia, which affects at least 1/10 of Hong Kong population. How is our distress over the loss of sleep exacerbated by the allocation of sleep in our society? Being at the edge of sleep, insomnia does not only entail individual distress, but further the social and temporal misalignment with the society. Yet in the process of mediating such misalignment, we will also discuss how people involve in the alternative ways of everyday life.

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 anthrohk@gmail.comwww.cuhk.edu.hk/ant/hkas, orwww.facebook.com/hkanthro.