Monday, September 25, 2017

[Friday Seminar Recap] The Politics and Ethics of Patriarchy in 21st century China: A Conversation about Sex, Family, and Power

Date: September 15th 2017 (Friday)
Speakers: Petula S. Y. HO (何式凝) (Social Work, HKU)
Teresa KUAN (關宜馨) (Anthropology, CUHK)
Gordon MATHEWS (麥高登) (Anthropology, CUHK)
Gonçalo SANTOS (江紹龍) (HKIHSS, HKU)
Moderator: Minhua LING (凌旻華) (China Studies, CUHK)

Chinese society has been radically reshaped by the successive waves of revolutions since the 19th century. Patriarchy, which defined the familial social structure for a very long period in Chinese history, seems to be altered or even reversed. Is patriarchy “dead”, or is it still relevant for understanding power and intimate life in contemporary China? Discussing the book Transforming Patriarchy: Chinese Families in the 21st Century, Prof. Ho, Prof. Kuan, Prof. Mathews and Prof. Santos shared their views in the Friday Seminar titled “The Politics and Ethics of Patriarchy in 21st century China: A Conversation about Sex, Family and Power”.

Prof. Santos started by stating that he finds it important to bring family and intimate life back into the focus of research on contemporary society and investigate their intertwinement with institutions and technologies. He then examined and critiqued the theoretical “enemies”: two previous theories of the transformation of families, i.e. modernization theory and individualization theory. Modernization theory argues that as industrialization spreads, there is a shift from the patriarchal family to the nuclear family, in which more emphasis is put on companionship and romantic love, leading to a more egalitarian mode of intimate life. The individualization thesis, as a successor, highlights how intimate relationships have been privatized and become thinner, more fragile and liquid in the age of globalization. Prof. Santos pointed out that these theses assume the change to be linear, and overstate the importance of individual agency, without articulating clearly the link between individual choice, state policies and global forces.

As an alternative, in Transforming Patriarchy, it is argued that the rising significance of romantic love, conjugal units and individualized intimacy should be conceptualized as the transformation of patriarchal inequalities, rather than the end of them. Based on the Chinese context, Prof. Santos discussed a spatial-temporal model of domestic inequality, which includes two key axes: generation and gender. Furthermore, this system is not historically constant but subject to the influence of extra-domestic forces in the surrounding environment. Prof. Santos argued that while the classic patriarchal structures have been effectively shaken in contemporary China, the growing salience of individual choice in people’s private life does not equal to absolute freedom from social ties, institutional constraints and normative intervention. The focus should be two-fold. In the end, Prof. Santos looked into the case of Ma Rongrong, a pregnant Chinese woman who committed suicide presumably due to unbearable labor pain after being denied a C-section, and discussed the relationship between birth-giving, authority of hospitals and power of the husband’s family.

Other speakers at the Seminar all gave insightful comments. Prof. Ho discussed the various forms of patriarchs from a Hong Kong perspective and emphasized the interplay of gender and macro politics. Prof. Kuan went into the details of Transforming Patriarchy and pinpointed a contradiction: the forces that constraint and compel are also those that create meaning and generate affection. Prof. Mathews compared the cases of China and Japan from the perspectives of generation wealth difference, state intervention and economic prospect.

A full house!

Prof. Ho

Prof. Kuan

Prof. Mathews

Prof. Santos

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Multiculturalism in Action Project – ICONIC Mums Program Workshop 6 多元文化行動計劃ICONIC媽媽課程工作坊(六)

The ICONIC Mums Program had its sixth workshop “Community Development: Neighborhood Programs Workshop” on 19 August 2017. We visited St. James Settlement in Wan Chai to learn about how the Community Oriented Mutual Economy (COME) has connected and empowered the Wan Chai neighborhood, as well as to brainstorm what we can do for our community project that will kick start after the workshop.
轉眼間ICONIC媽媽課程的工作坊系列已經來到第六次了!在2017819日舉行的 社區發展:鄰舍計劃工作坊,旨在了解聖雅各福群會於灣仔推行的社區經濟互助計劃,認識此項計劃如何連結起並賦權予街坊,也讓我們思考想為自己的社區舉行一個怎樣的社區項目。

The workshop started off with learning how to greet each other in different languages which showed the uniqueness of being an intercultural program. We had a revision on how to greet in Hindi: putting our hands together and say “namaste”. Then, a Pakistani mum taught us how to greet Muslims: by saying assalamu alaykum”, meaning “may God keep you save”.  The sounds of greetings kept warming us up as we practiced “cho sun” (meaning “good morning” in Cantonese) and “ni hao” (meaning “hello” in Putonghua). After the practice, we are all able to greet in various languages!
作為一個跨文化的課程,我們在工作坊開始前先學習如何以不同語言打招呼。首先,我們重溫了如何用印度語打招呼 - 雙手合十說 “Namaste”。然後,其中一位巴基斯坦裔媽媽教我們說 “Assalamu alaykum”,這是穆斯林的問候語,意思為 祝你平安。隨後,我們又學了用廣東話說 早晨,以及用普通話說 早上好。重溫幾次以後,大家都能以幾種語言與朋友打招呼了!
Do you know all these greetings?

Ms. Dora Cheng, a social worker of St. James Settlement, told us that COME has been launched for almost 20 years. Although Hong Kong has faced various economic downturns since 1997, difficulties also created opportunities. Residents in Wan Chai realized the importance of mutual support and community connectedness. COME is formed by residents from all walks of life, who are eager to contribute and participate actively, and as a result various project teams and social enterprises have been established. In addition, the “Time Coupon” system has been introduced. It pioneers the concept of exchanging goods and services by labor hours instead of cash.
接著,聖雅各福群會社工鄭淑貞姑娘為我們介紹COME。不說不知,原來COME已經在灣仔推行了接近二十年。雖然香港自1997年起經歷了不少風雨,但有危也有機,街坊慢慢明白到社區支援與連結的重要性。COME聚集到一班有心的街坊一起參與發展,規模越來越大,現在已成立了不同小組與社會企業。社區貨幣 時分也是COME的一部分,不論你從事哪樣職業,勞動的時間都可以換來同等價值。時分券可以於COME的社區組織換取貨品或服務,真正做到 勞動有價

We were divided into two groups for a community tour to the Ground Works and the Time Coupon Place guided by Dora and a resident Sau Ping. The Ground Works is a social enterprise managed by Wan Chai residents. They sell local organic vegetables, as well as home recipe products such as the Five Elements Radish Cake. The Time Coupon Place is a place where residents can use time coupons to exchange for goods and services. It is also a gathering point for neighbors to stay for a chat and a cup of tea. The strong community bond in Wan Chai was reflected when Dora and Sau Ping kept greeting other residents in the community tour.

Visiting the Time Coupon Place

Handmade sesame candies

Back at the St. James Settlement Building, Sau Ping taught us how to use orange peel, sugar, and water to make garbage enzyme. This product is a multipurpose cleaner which is environmentally friendly. We learned that it is most important to get the precise proportion of the ingredients, and be patient in waiting for the completion of fermentation, which takes three months. All of us are now looking forward to the completion of own handmade garbage enzyme, and we are eager to share the new skills with our friends.

Making garbage enzyme: everyone looked so serious!

The workshop ended with an organic vegetarian lunch prepared by Wan Chai residents. Apart from guiding us to taste the freshness and different tastes of the natural ingredients, Dora explained to us the stories behind these ingredients and dishes. By knowing more about the production process, it seemed that we, as consumers, were reconnected to the land and producers.

Our lunch menu

We were really inspired by the efforts and perseverance of the Wan Chai residents. All of us can’t wait to give a try on our own community project. The ICONIC mums started to design their projects, and everyone is looking forward to seeing each other’s achievement in the closing ceremony in November!  


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

[Event] Cambodia Summer Field Trip 2017 Exhibition

Touching Angkor: From Temples to Cities, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage in Cambodia

This summer, the anthropology department from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) established the first credit-bearing course that included fieldwork in archaeology and cultural heritage studies in Cambodia. With our students from CUHK and graduates from The Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA), Phnom Penh, we travelled to the capital Phnom Penh then to Angkor, Siem Reap in June. To share the result of our research, we have organized an exhibition at Hui Gallery, New Asia College, CUHK, 16-27, October, co-organized with APSARA Authority, Siem Reap and Faculty of Archaeology, RUFA, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

We visited a piece of history left by the Khmer Rouge through the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum that was listed under “the Memory of the World” in 2009; we examined the archaeological sites of Angkor, which the UNESCO inscribed as “World Heritage” in 1992. The class was divided into five groups that conquered the academic areas of museum anthropology, archaeology, ceramic studies, intangible cultural heritage and peoples and cultures of Cambodia. We will unravel some new and interesting cross-cultural interpretations of archaeology and cultural heritage studies in Cambodia in this exhibition.

Opening Ceremony: 12:00 p.m., October 17, 2017 (Tue)
Exhibition Date: October 16 - 27, 2017
Venue: 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. - 5:30 p.m. (Saturday);
Closed (Sundays and Public Holidays).

Enquiries: 3943 7670

Refreshment will be provided in the opening ceremony. All are welcome!

Watch the 1-min video trailer