Everyday Hybridity

Dr Paul O'Connor
Anthropology/Sociology/Cultural Studies/
Hong Kong/Ethnicity/
Skateboarding/Everyday Life

Lecturing in Anthropology at CUHK

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  1. On being African in China
Zahra Baitie writes a candid piece about her experience of being an Africa n student in China. Many of the stories she recounts are familiar. The acceptance that Zahra provides of the way in which she is dealt with is both refreshing and telling of the situation that she finds herself in.
Much of what she talks about is a kind of everyday racism (Essed 1991), but it also underlines the very different way of talking about and confronting difference in China. There is a very candid and upfront attitude. 
Much of these experiences are similar to the ones that Africans experience in Hong Kong also. But arguably in Hong Kong there is also less fascination and a much more abrupt interruption of social distance and discrimination.
It reminds me of Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks, "look mum a negro girl". Zahra has had to constantly navigate being exotic whilst also being in an emic position. She speaks Mandarinm spent lost of time with a Chinese family and is able to understand the way she is analysed and discussed in everyday encounters.
It is also interesting to note that in Chinese negative characters are used to represent Africa. My friend Kirk who passed me the story says that Western countries have more positive names.

    On being African in China

    Zahra Baitie writes a candid piece about her experience of being an Africa n student in China. Many of the stories she recounts are familiar. The acceptance that Zahra provides of the way in which she is dealt with is both refreshing and telling of the situation that she finds herself in.

    Much of what she talks about is a kind of everyday racism (Essed 1991), but it also underlines the very different way of talking about and confronting difference in China. There is a very candid and upfront attitude. 

    Much of these experiences are similar to the ones that Africans experience in Hong Kong also. But arguably in Hong Kong there is also less fascination and a much more abrupt interruption of social distance and discrimination.

    It reminds me of Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks, "look mum a negro girl". Zahra has had to constantly navigate being exotic whilst also being in an emic position. She speaks Mandarinm spent lost of time with a Chinese family and is able to understand the way she is analysed and discussed in everyday encounters.

    It is also interesting to note that in Chinese negative characters are used to represent Africa. My friend Kirk who passed me the story says that Western countries have more positive names.

     
     
  2. Buddhism tomorrow in class, and my good friends are hanging out with the monks in China and they sent this photo.

    Buddhism tomorrow in class, and my good friends are hanging out with the monks in China and they sent this photo.

     
     
  3. !

     
     
  4. From the SCMP

Maggie Cheung was born in Hong Kong, her parents are Hongkongers, she speaks perfect Cantonese, holds a Hong Kong identity card and a Chinese home return permit, but it took media pressure for the government to grant her Chinese nationality.
After filing her application a year ago, the Immigration Department finally approved her application to become a Chinese national on Friday, following questions raised by the Sunday Morning Post over the case.
Cheung was born to a Pakistani woman in Hong Kong 24 years ago, but her mother abandoned her. She was fostered by a Chinese family when she was three months old and was legally adopted by the same family when she was three.
The young woman studied at a local school and then progressed to Chinese University where she studied for a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sports science.
Two years ago she had a chance to take part in an exchange programme in Britain, so she went to apply for a passport.
She was shocked to be told she was not a naturalised Chinese and was only given a document of identity for visa purposes, in which the section concerning her nationality was left blank, indicating she was stateless.
"I really struggled psychologically when I found out that while I recognise myself as a Hongkonger, the law does not," she recalled. She regards herself as a Hong Kong citizen and her identity card carries three stars - indicating her permanent residency.
After being given the document of identity she tried to apply for naturalisation but was told her chances were slim as she did not have a stable income. Cheung, who now teaches liberal studies in a secondary school in Tseung Kwan O, formally filed an application last year after she became a teacher.
On Friday that application was approved.
"I am really disappointed," she said.
"So the government actually works that way - it approves an application when [the] media file inquiries. It is not credible at all and the system is very problematic."
She has yet to receive a written notice of the approval.
According to the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, to which Hong Kong is a signatory, contracting states “shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of stateless persons”.
Law Yuk-kai, director of independent rights organisation Human Rights Monitor, said the government had an international obligation to solve Cheung’s nationality issue when she was legally recognised as an adopted child - following the nationality of her adoptive parents according to international practice.
"She has a home return permit, meaning even the Chinese government recognised her as a Chinese national, or else how can she return ‘home’ [to the mainland]?" he said.
Foreigners or stateless persons holding Hong Kong permanent residency can only apply for the home return permit when they have been naturalised, according to the website of the China Travel Service, which issued the permits.
Barrister and former lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, now a member of the non-government organisation Hong Kong Unison, agreed, saying Chinese law states that adopted children should be treated the same as one’s own children and should be given Chinese nationality if their parents are Chinese.
Cheung is the fourth person with an ethnic minority background reported by the Post as having had trouble with their naturalisation applications.
However, Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman, district councillor Paul Zimmerman and former director general of InvestHK Michael Rowse were all successfully naturalised.
"It would not cost the director of immigration anything to write an open statement once again to reassure everybody that ‘we do apply the rule consistently and actually there is no racial bias’," said Equal Opportunities Commission chairperson Lam Woon-kwong.
He added that matters concerning immigration were exempted under the racial discrimination ordinance.
Fermi Wong Wai-fun, executive director of Hong Kong Unison, which helps ethnic minorities, said she would write to Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok this week with about 10 similar cases and if he failed to give a positive response, she would launch a judicial review against the naturalisation system.
An Immigration Department spokesman refused to comment on individual cases.

    From the SCMP

    Maggie Cheung was born in Hong Kong, her parents are Hongkongers, she speaks perfect Cantonese, holds a Hong Kong identity card and a Chinese home return permit, but it took media pressure for the government to grant her Chinese nationality.

    After filing her application a year ago, the Immigration Department finally approved her application to become a Chinese national on Friday, following questions raised by the Sunday Morning Post over the case.

    Cheung was born to a Pakistani woman in Hong Kong 24 years ago, but her mother abandoned her. She was fostered by a Chinese family when she was three months old and was legally adopted by the same family when she was three.

    The young woman studied at a local school and then progressed to Chinese University where she studied for a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sports science.

    Two years ago she had a chance to take part in an exchange programme in Britain, so she went to apply for a passport.

    She was shocked to be told she was not a naturalised Chinese and was only given a document of identity for visa purposes, in which the section concerning her nationality was left blank, indicating she was stateless.

    "I really struggled psychologically when I found out that while I recognise myself as a Hongkonger, the law does not," she recalled. She regards herself as a Hong Kong citizen and her identity card carries three stars - indicating her permanent residency.

    After being given the document of identity she tried to apply for naturalisation but was told her chances were slim as she did not have a stable income. Cheung, who now teaches liberal studies in a secondary school in Tseung Kwan O, formally filed an application last year after she became a teacher.

    On Friday that application was approved.

    "I am really disappointed," she said.

    "So the government actually works that way - it approves an application when [the] media file inquiries. It is not credible at all and the system is very problematic."

    She has yet to receive a written notice of the approval.

    According to the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, to which Hong Kong is a signatory, contracting states “shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of stateless persons”.

    Law Yuk-kai, director of independent rights organisation Human Rights Monitor, said the government had an international obligation to solve Cheung’s nationality issue when she was legally recognised as an adopted child - following the nationality of her adoptive parents according to international practice.

    "She has a home return permit, meaning even the Chinese government recognised her as a Chinese national, or else how can she return ‘home’ [to the mainland]?" he said.

    Foreigners or stateless persons holding Hong Kong permanent residency can only apply for the home return permit when they have been naturalised, according to the website of the China Travel Service, which issued the permits.

    Barrister and former lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, now a member of the non-government organisation Hong Kong Unison, agreed, saying Chinese law states that adopted children should be treated the same as one’s own children and should be given Chinese nationality if their parents are Chinese.

    Cheung is the fourth person with an ethnic minority background reported by the Post as having had trouble with their naturalisation applications.

    However, Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman, district councillor Paul Zimmerman and former director general of InvestHK Michael Rowse were all successfully naturalised.

    "It would not cost the director of immigration anything to write an open statement once again to reassure everybody that ‘we do apply the rule consistently and actually there is no racial bias’," said Equal Opportunities Commission chairperson Lam Woon-kwong.

    He added that matters concerning immigration were exempted under the racial discrimination ordinance.

    Fermi Wong Wai-fun, executive director of Hong Kong Unison, which helps ethnic minorities, said she would write to Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok this week with about 10 similar cases and if he failed to give a positive response, she would launch a judicial review against the naturalisation system.

    An Immigration Department spokesman refused to comment on individual cases.

     
     
  5. In just a few hours I have got some really interesting responses to my Hong Kong survey. Already I am seeing some patterns and some unique distinctions in the responses. Its great.
Please pass the survey on, and in time I shall be posting some follow ups about the results.
Thanks to everyone who has taken part so far, and please keep the ball rolling.
English: http://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/surveyasp/PagedSurvey.aspx?sid=3993
中文: http://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/surveyasp/PagedSurvey.aspx?sid=3993&lang=c

    In just a few hours I have got some really interesting responses to my Hong Kong survey. Already I am seeing some patterns and some unique distinctions in the responses. Its great.

    Please pass the survey on, and in time I shall be posting some follow ups about the results.

    Thanks to everyone who has taken part so far, and please keep the ball rolling.

    English: http://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/surveyasp/PagedSurvey.aspx?sid=3993

    中文: http://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/surveyasp/PagedSurvey.aspx?sid=3993&lang=c

     
     
  6. National Education has been withdrawn by C.Y. Leung
A triumph for the hordes of students and parents demonstrating about Hong Kong’s proposed National Education Bill. I can imagine that the Tamar site is now a party atmosphere.
Perhaps now a dialogue can begin on something a little more apropos for Hong Kong like China citizenship?

    National Education has been withdrawn by C.Y. Leung

    A triumph for the hordes of students and parents demonstrating about Hong Kong’s proposed National Education Bill. I can imagine that the Tamar site is now a party atmosphere.

    Perhaps now a dialogue can begin on something a little more apropos for Hong Kong like China citizenship?

     
     
  7. Imagined, Virtual, and Resisted Communities

    Benedict Anderson’s argument that Nations are purely imagined communities gestated by the rise of print capitalism, and sustained by the boundaries rendered by cartographers is a crucial one in understanding contemporary critical thought, politics, and identity. What we now face is a re-articulation of both the nation and the community.

    Technology is always so much more than gadgets and trinkets to amuse and aid our daily lives. New devices always have a social and cultural impact, and with some the weight is tremendous. As Anderson has shown, print capitalism, books and news in a dominant language, altered the way we thought of ourselves. So too did the telephone, and the television. They introduced new modes of communication, new media to inform, educate, commercialise, brainwash, pacify, and titilate.

    Social Media is now rewriting our ideas of community, of entertainment, news, and also, some argue, rewiring our brains. This summer Newsweek ran an alarmist story regarding the insanity induced by web-addiction, iPhones, and Facebook. Whilst some of this clearly has legitimate founding, it does also sound a little like people complaining of myopic bookworms, and square eyed TV viewers. All these mediums have their pitfalls. What I am interested in is how are they remaking our ideas about nation, about community, about everyday issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and religion? In the past few months I have been fascinated by the depth of discussion on issues of gender politics, cultural appropriation, international relations, all on social media. Of course there are also lots of kittens and Minecraft out there too.

    Today see the continuation of Hong Kong’s year of National angst. Students besiege the Tamar Government offices with a hunger strike calling an end to ‘proposed’ National Education. At the same time a small piece of hi-tech plastic has been released making commuters’ lives much easier. One single travel card for use between Hong Kong and Shenzen. Or in more simple terms one travel card to pay flawlessly for transportation in both Hong Kong and China. This is a huge asset to National integration. Whilst Hong Kong has always been geographically part of China, it’s maps have always left a void at the Northern New Territories. Roads, and railways (that have long existed and connected the two) can now be travelled between the two regions with ever greater ease and increasingly less red tape.

    So concurrent with the physical boundaries of Hong Kong becoming ever fainter, there is a rise in an ideological buttress between Hong Kong and China, a fear of change and loss. What is perhaps most worrying to Hong Kong people is the loss of their identity, and it seems whilst a threat is perceived, the Hong Kong identity (which has been very ambiguous and liminal for the bulk of the territory’s history) is starting to become much less faint. Hong Kong’s future is, and has always been China. But it remains to be seen in what form this will find stasis.

     
     
  8. The Olympics is now over and whilst Chinese astronauts have been visiting Hong Kong over the last few days, we must now prepare for the visit of the gold medalists. Next week the Chinese Olympic medalists will visit Hong Kong and give demonstrations for the public. It appears that there will also be some table tennis and badminton matches between the Chinese athletes and members of the Hong Kong Olympic team.

    Thousands of tickets will be made available for elderly residents and many more tickets will be available to ordinary residents priced around HK$20 each.

    So whilst the city hosts the national triumphs of China this August, one of the year’s ongoing stories finds new fuel. Eason Chan has released a new album with a song that has an unmistakable anti-locust sentiment. The BadCanto blog provides further information on the track and the background to it. Suffice to say that regardless of Eason’s true message, which may be somewhat ambiguous, it will be subject to intense debate.

    The locust issue of the last year does not seem to subside. Environmentalists have complained that the extra summer shows that dolphins are performing in Ocean Park, are distressing and cruel to the sea mammals. A tacit association here is with the large number of mainland visitors that visit the park by bus-loads throughout the summer period. This is compounded by a story in the South China Morning Post that claims that mainland parents are bringing their mentally and physically disabled children to Hong Kong and then abandoning them.

    In the two years to last December, police found at least six abandoned children, including an eight-month-old boy with a heart problem in Sheung Shui, and a mentally disabled boy between five and seven years old in a street in Lau Fau Shan. Both are believed to have been dumped by their parents last year.

    (SCMP 13/08/2012- Mainlanders dump children in the city, Emily Tsang)

    Some citizens are suspicious of the national pomp of astronauts and Olympic medalists and have criticised these events as simply another form of national education. A further question arises with the release of the MTR corporations profits for the first half of the year. These appear to have fallen nearly 6%. As the MTR corporation garners much of its revenue from properties that it develops and owns above its underground stations, the issue that Hong Kong people have become priced out of their own housing market begins to find knock on effects.

    A fascinating year in the life of Hong Kong

     
     
  9. This is a brief snippet from the anti-national education protests last week. I think it is a really interesting to see these Pakistani girls get involved in the debate. It stresses the link between a local identity and inclusion in Chinese language education. What are the parameters of belonging in Hong Kong, and how do these translate to China?

    The placards that the two girls are holding read. 

    Left: I need Chinese education. Don’t need brainwashing education.

    Right: Want me to be patriotic but don’t teach me Chinese well.

    For more information on the large number of children that took part in this protest visit BadCanto.

     
     
  10. Always great photos from Alex Hofford. This latest post has pictures from the PLA open day in Hong Kong. Perhaps there has never been a more sensitive time for this to be brough to the fore. Yesterday saw thousands of people (young and old) march on the issue of national education. At the same time there are increasing tensions with China and territories in the South China Sea.
I have been saying it all year and I shall say it again. 2012 has been the most interesting year in Hong Kong politics for the best part of a decade. Arguably 2003 (SARS) was the only time there was both so much change and so much tension since the handover. 

    Always great photos from Alex Hofford. This latest post has pictures from the PLA open day in Hong Kong. Perhaps there has never been a more sensitive time for this to be brough to the fore. Yesterday saw thousands of people (young and old) march on the issue of national education. At the same time there are increasing tensions with China and territories in the South China Sea.

    I have been saying it all year and I shall say it again. 2012 has been the most interesting year in Hong Kong politics for the best part of a decade. Arguably 2003 (SARS) was the only time there was both so much change and so much tension since the handover.