Monday, October 31, 2016

[Friday Seminar Recap] Zones, Landmarks and Spatialized Conflict in a NE Tibetan Town

Zones, Landmarks and Spatialized Conflict in a NE Tibetan Town

Date and Time: 7 Oct 2016 (Friday), 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Venue: Room 11, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

Speaker: Mark Stevenson (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

On 7 Oct 2016, our department invited Dr. Mark Stevenson to give a talk on “Zones, Landmarks and Spatialized Conflict in a NE Tibetan Town”. His talk examined inter-ethnic relations through the lens of the making of public space in Rebkong. Given the fact that Xining, the capital of Qinghai province locates in the northern direction of this village, the government thus seems to identify the north part of the village as newer and more secular space, whereas the south of it as older and more religious (as the monastery is located in the south).

Many pictures showed during the talk spoke for themselves regarding the topic. One picture, with a statue of Tibetan Buddha standing in the local public square and with a few Tibetans kowtowed to the Buda, showed how recent a product the public space is for the locals. The speaker mentioned that there was no public square in Xining as well until around 2000. This might indicate some less-recognized inner struggle. The fact that this statue was sponsored by the government of Tianjin added even more complexity to the story. As many young Tibetans get their education in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, Tianjin is the one which embraced the largest number of Tibetan students from this town, which justifies its sponsorship. Another picture shows a group of young local Tibetan students protesting for their right of being educated in Tibetan language right by the said square. A third picture shows how the village, due to its famous Thangka artifact, is going to be designed by the government as a “development garden for art and artists” (青海熱貢藝術工業園區) which will probably attract more investment and opportunity for the locals, and at the same time, shape the cultural landscape of the valley in a profound way.

The speaker mentioned about the connection between public space and the Tibetan protest happened in 2008 as well as the public suicides of the same group happened around 2009 and 2010. Due to the public nature of the square, these suicides may be considered public events involving witnesses. The creation of new public space (such as the one with statue) means it can be used by protesters, for whom the public witness is desired. For example, the picture of protest in the square was immediately uploaded to internet during the very time and got circulated very soon. Moreover, the speaker also said that a contest for power/authority has existed between the secular and the administrative force, which can be seen from the choosing of local religious head. As “no religion in Tibet does not have a government behind it”, it is for sure that neither side can be cut clear from the other; the “connection”, as opposed to the “division” of the two, thus deserves equal attention of the investigator.

Zoe Duan
MPhil Student,
Department of Anthropology and Gender Studies Programme,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Thursday, October 27, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] ‘No More Refugees’: Mapping the Shift in Hong Kong’s Human Rights Discourse 2015-16

Title: ‘No More Refugees’: Mapping the Shift in Hong Kong’s Human Rights Discourse 2015-16
Speaker: Justin MURGAI (Christian Action)
Date and time: 4 November 2016, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Venue: Room 11 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


News about the global plight of refugees has become commonplace in our newspapers with over 65 million people forcibly displaced as a result of on-going conflict and persecution around the world. In Hong Kong, the number of refugees (and asylum seekers, potential victims of trafficking, etc.) stands at 11,000—a negligible fraction of the population and a mere 2% increase in numbers over the last 6 months—yet the Immigration Department has come to describe it as a “worsening influx” and a “surge”. Politicians and certain media channels have similarly adopted negative stereotyping of refugees in their election campaigns and coverage, and potentially unlawful (and dangerous) options have been presented as solutions to this “crisis”. This talk presents an overview of the change in institutional rhetoric regarding refugees and opens discussion on its influence on the lives of an already marginalized community in Hong Kong. 

Justin Murgai is an M.Phil graduate of the Department of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is now Manager, Christian Action - Humanitarian Services (Hong Kong).


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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

[Upcoming Event] Roundtable: "Low-End Globalization on Three Continents"

The Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong will hold a roundtable discussion on “Low-End Globalization on Three Continents” next Tuesday! All interested are welcome!


Roundtable: “Low-End Globalization on Three Continents.” 

Date: 1 November 2016 (Tuesday) 

Time: 5:30PM–7:00PM 

Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong 


Juliane Müller, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen, Germany 
“Popular trade in Bolivia and the Andes in relation to China” 

Sayaka Ogawa, Ritsumeikan University, Japan 
“Copy Mobile Phones, Tanzania and China” 

Gordon Mathews, The Chinese University of Hong Kong 
“Cheating between African entrepreneurs and Chinese suppliers in Guangzhou”

Each speaker will speak for ten minutes. Then, speakers and audience members will question each other, to try to arrive at some deeper insights into the processes of low-end globalization worldwide.

Monday, October 17, 2016

[Summer Field Trip 2016 Exhibition] Kiat Hun: Changes in Wedding Rituals and Customs in Southern Taiwan


Every year, the Anthropology Department organizes a field trip to give majors a chance to gain experience conducting fieldwork in another culture. This year, students did fieldwork on tradition and change in wedding rituals in Pingdong, southern Taiwan. This exhibition shows how wedding rituals have changed over time, and also illustrates how anthropologists can study a simple custom to learn more about a society and culture more broadly.


Opening Ceremony: 
12:00 noon, 18 October 2016 
(All are welcome! Light refreshments will be served in the opening ceremony.)

Exhibition Period: 
1728 October 2016

Hui Gallery, New Asia College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Opening hours of Hui Gallery: 
9:30 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. (Monday to Friday)
9:30 a.m.– 12:00 p.m. (Saturdays)
9:30 a.m.– 5:30 p.m. (22 October 2016 [CUHK Orientation Day])
Closed (Sundays and Public Holidays)

(852) 3943 7670 /

Friday, October 14, 2016

[Friday Seminar Recap] The Role of Beauty Contests in the Filipino Community in Israel

The Role of Beauty Contests in the Filipino Community in Israel

Speaker: Deby BABIS (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 30 Sept 2016 (Friday)
Venue: Room 11, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

On Sept 30, our department invited Deby Babis, a sociologist and anthropologist specializing in voluntary organizations and ethnic communities, to give a talk on the role of beauty contests in the Filipino community in Israel. Babis first gave the audience some background information about Israel and the Filipino workers working in the country. The population of Israel was approximately 8,500,000, among which Jews constituted the largest population group and Arabs formed the second largest. Filipino migrant workers were usually employed by the Jews, and stayed in the country with a work visa. The Filipinos, forming a large migrant workers group, had already become a part of Israel’s scenery. The prevalence of Filipinos working as live-in caregivers in Israel had even made the term Filipinit acquired the meaning of live-in caregiver in Israel’s context. The Filipinos in Israel received a minimum salary of USD 1000 for their work as live-in caregivers. They had a day off per week, in which they would engage in different kinds of activities.

Deby Babis
Babis used various methods in conducting the research, including observations, interviews, and digital ethnography. She mentioned that there were different categories of beauty contest organized for women, men, girls and boys within the Filipino community in Israel. These events were usually sponsored by organizations like caregiver agencies and money transfer companies. Facebook was used as a promotion channel to call for participants for the events. The candidates, after registering for the contest, would have photo shoots, followed by two to five weeks’ rehearsals for the contest. The coronation ceremony did not mark an end to the beauty contestthe recap on the event and the photos taken at the competition would be widely shared on Facebook, and the money raised in the competition could become a source of support for other projects in both Israel and the Philippines.

The audience
As Babis describes, beauty contests organized in the Filipino community in Israel could have three levels of significance: individual level, communal level, and transnational level. On personal level, the Filipino migrant workers could feel themselves as someone more than just a caregiver by participating in the beauty contests. They could express and develop other aspect of their lives, reinforcing their self-confidence and self-value. The contests also enabled them to expand their social network and gain popularity within the community. On communal level, beauty contests helped to foster social gatherings for the Filipino migrant workers on day-off. They could also collect funds for mutual help, and obtain partial recognition as a community. On transnational level, the beauty contests, as a Filipino tradition and a fundraising occasion, could help the Filipino migrant workers to preserve and develop their ties with home country.

Babis concluded that although beauty contest had negative connotations in the western context, it had acquired rich socio-cultural meanings in the Filipino community in Israel.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

[Multiculturalism in Action Project 2016-17] FUN with Interculturalism – Experiential Learning Day at Valtorta College

The Multiculturalism in Action (MIA) Project is continuing its community outreach program, FUN with Interculturalism, in this academic year. On 30 September 2016, the MIA was invited to host intercultural activities for the Experiential Learning Day at Valtorta College.

An “Exhibition on South Asian Communities in Hong Kong” was displayed, more than 200 students joined the docent tour. They were divided into small groups and led by our docents for detailed explanations on the Indian, Nepali, and Pakistani communities in Hong Kong.

Our docents explaining the Exhibition content to students

Aside from learning the facts on the history and contribution of South Asians in Hong Kong, students were shown how to play cricket, a popular sport all over South Asia.

Students trying their hands on cricket

There were also kabaddi sessions held by our instructors, Dr. Wyman Tang and Mr. Alan Tse. Kabaddi is a traditional game played throughout South Asia which develops the physique, team work, and strategy. Today, kabaddi is an official event in the Asian Games. Both students and teachers enjoyed a lot.

Learning to play kabaddi

It was a fun and meaningful morning for students, teachers, and the MIA team, during which intercultural knowledge and activities were shared and discussed! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] Children of the Emir: Citizenship, Family, and Migration in the Gulf

Title: Children of the Emir: Citizenship, Family, and Migration in the Gulf
Speaker: Pardis MAHDAVI (Pomona College)
Date and time: 17 October 2016, 1:00pm-2:30pm
Venue: Room 11 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait are amongst the largest migrant receiving countries in the world. But while these Gulf states are heavily reliant on migrant labor, they are hesitant to offer citizenship rights and protections to migrants, even those who have been born within their borders. In this presentation I draw on ethnographic field work with migrant mothers and stateless children to show how national and transnational policies hinder the lives of stateless migrants. The kefala system, a guest worker program, mandates that female workers not engage in sexual relations for the duration of their contracts. While some engage in consensual relations with boyfriends or partners, others are raped by abusive employers. When they become pregnant, it is a visible marker that they have violated both the kefala contours requiring contractual sterilization and sharia laws about sex outside of marriage. Migrant women are then incarcerated; they give birth in jail, stand trial for their crimes and are often deported back to their sending countries – without their babies. 

Pardis Mahdavi, PhD is Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology and Director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College. Her research interests include gendered labor, migration, sexuality, human rights, youth culture, transnational feminism and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. She has written four books: Passionate Uprisings: Iran’s Sexual Revolution (2008) Gridlock: Labor, Migration and ‘Human Trafficking’ in Dubai (2011), From Trafficking to Terror: Constructing a Global Social Problem was (2013) and Crossing the Gulf: Love and Family in Migrant Lives (2016).


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

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] Made to Measure: Understanding Crafting Revival in a Melanesian Society

Title: Made to Measure: Understanding Crafting Revival in a Melanesian Society
Speaker: Prof. Graeme Were (Associate Professor in Anthropology and Museum StudiesUniversity of Queensland)
Date and time: 12:00pm, 14 October 2016
Venue: NAH 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


Graeme Were is Associate Professor in Anthropology and Museum Studies and convenes the Museum Studies postgraduate programme in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland. He has held positions at University College London, Goldsmiths College London, and the British Museum and joined UQ in 2011. His research interests include museum anthropology, digital heritage and material culture studies and he has a regional specialism in Papua New Guinea. His recent work includes Lines that connect: rethinking pattern and mind in the Pacific (University of Hawai'i Press, 2010) and (co-edited with J.C.H. King) Extreme collecting (Berghahn, 2012). He presented the prestigious 2011 Curl Lecture at the British Museum awarded by the Royal Anthropological Institute, and in 2012, he received a UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award for his work on digital heritage and knowledge networks in Melanesia. He serves on the Australian government's National Cultural Heritage Committee.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

[講座回放:週五研討會] 在禮物經濟的思考中:藝術、人類學和基層社會運動(三個人類學學生的分享)



本系的畢業生李維怡、蕭朗宜、以及本科生張詠儀早前擔任了週五研討會的講者,分享她們把人類學識應用於影行者工作的經驗(:影行者是個影像藝術團體,力於創作關懷社會的紀錄片,及進行影像媒體普及化的工作),以及從中獲得的感想及啟發。李維怡研討會的時了幾個核心問——「如何反抗孤立/原子化/缺乏愛的社會結構?」「一個更美好的世界難?」「好心做壞事?」「是結構/會(structure / society),是個體/行動(individual / agent)?」「人類學是藝術還是科學?」

(由左至右) 蕭朗宜張詠儀李維怡

維怡人類學其透過讓我們反思本質主義及二元對立等概念的流弊,進而讓我們更知道如何更貼近地理解人的生活,這樣才有可能成就一種不孤立、不疏社會生活度。此之外,人類學亦讓我瞭解到象徵網絡symbolic network讓人感知到自與周的關係,並關注存於結之中的權係,了解權力關係如何發生,才能知道人與人之間平等、互愛如何真正實踐,不會好心做壞事。李維怡之後將論述聚焦於禮物、藝術、和基層三方面上。她從三個層去解讀「禮物」:廣互惠(generalized reciprocity)及資源的流通、對「人情味」的結構性理解為自由主義「無形之手」(the invisible hand的相。「藝術」則能作一種流通禮物、一個自我表的方式、一個溝的過程、及一種文源。在談到「基層」的時候,維怡引在雨傘運動期間人類學同學提出了「革命是為了更美好的愛情」的例子,能影響感情關的建及鞏固。她提反思社使大部的人處於社的底層置他於一個難操控自的時及空的位置。維怡在時間、間、及社的配下能體現出不同層的人情味她相一個優化的勞一個好的文——當人們能對自時間所掌控就能有更多的時及空跟自身邊的人相處。維怡亦提到社除了需「否定」的方向(不想要的之外亦需有「肯定」的方向(對一個更美好的社仔細願景,而不止是一個虛空的大方向)。


著蕭朗宜向聽眾介紹影行者及自治八樓辦的香港社會運動電影節這個辦到第十四屆的影節以像.動..動」作口號。朗宜向聽展述在籌的過中團的不同考和各種理念,在選片的過中會考到拍者與被拍者的權、在決的過中如不忽少數的意等等「交工」以翻譯及製作中文幕,去換取影)、「回到現場」(將影帶回拍場,Marcel Mauss提出的禮之靈“hau” 的概促成一種給予及回的關係)結」(透過影片與世界各地的社會運動結連,讓各地的社運經驗得以交流、累積和發展)來體現「連結」的理念。張詠儀則分享了人類學的田野訓練,如何有助她去切身處地上不同位的人的處境,令她在接觸基層時能更準確表達自己和理解他們的說話,以及避免「好心做壞事」。


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

[Upcoming Seminar] Zones, Landmarks and Spatialized Conflict in a NE Tibetan Town

Title: Zones, Landmarks and Spatialized Conflict in a NE Tibetan Town
Speaker: Mark STEVENSON (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Date and time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 7 Oct 2016
Venue: Room 11, Humanities Building New Asia College, CUHK

When the Tongren County People’s Government was proclaimed in the ethnic Tibetan territory of Amdo Rebkong on 22 September, 1949, the new administration inherited a site governed by a complex cultural overlay. Historically, the arrangement of new settlements in the vicinity of Rongwo Monastery had to conform with ritual precedence expressed through a principle of elevation. In this paper I will present evidence that the new administration, while participating in the local principle of vertical precedence, instituted a new logic of horizontal domination. I will then discuss how the copresence of the two spatial regimes supports on-going symbolic conflict even as Tongren is transformed into a rural-urban landscape intended to evoke national unity.

Dr Mark Stevenson (Adjunct Assistant Professor, CUHK; Honorary Fellow, Victoria University) is a social anthropologist with broad interests in cultural history, literary translation, and the history of ideas. His research with Tibetan communities is predominantly focused on interpreting transformations in contemporary visual culture, particularly in the northeast Tibetan region of Amdo Rebkong (Huangnan, Qinghai). He also works on text-based cultural-historical research concerned largely with gender, sexuality and social space in late-imperial China.


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