The oldest human footprints ever found outside Africa, left in a muddy river estuary 800,000 years ago, have been discovered in Norfolk by scientists from the British Museum and other national museums and universities.
Anthropology will continue to get a bad rap as long as we anthropologists think and write about the human condition in obtuse ways. When I talk about my life in anthropology and the people I have come to know and love over the years, I find people in the audience moved—not because what I had to say was particularly brilliant, but because I opened my experience—my joy and pain and that of my Nigerian friends—to them and such an opening established a connection. At my last several talks, I seen people shed a tear to two when I talk about the depth of my ethnographic experience and the depth of the humanity of my Nigerian friends. That kind of connect is usually missing in anthropological accounts. In my view of things, this connect should be the centerpiece of what we do.
It has been a busy week and I have been slower than usual with updates. Hi to all my new followers, I hope you enjoy the blog.
Today was the first day of CUHK’s 6th Annual Postgraduate Student Forum. The event has been really engaging and I am very proud to be associated with it. It is a truly international event with scholars sharing their research in numerous fields, from a host of universities. The calibre of the presentations has been excellent and I have been exposed to some promising academics and new avenues of research. It has also been a great opportunity to catch up with people too.
I must also mention that the forum is also highly commendable as it has been organised solely by the postgraduate students at CUHK Anthropology. It’s a mammoth task and a real testament to our students and the department. Bravo!
The event continues tomorrow at Yasumoto International Park CUHK campus.
Follow the link for a rundown of the presentations.
After 12 we welcome back author and anthropologist, Dr. Paul O’Connor from the Chinese University. Last Sunday marked the start of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj. Paul Will give a talk about this tomorrow for the HK Anthropological society. We’ll wrap up at 12.40 with a look ahead to tomorrow’s edition of Back Chat, with Hugh Chiverton. (9.30am-1pm, or email email@example.com )
Here is the link to today’s Morning Brew interview!
This morning I will be speaking to Phil Whelan on RTHK3 Morning Brew about my Hajj talk for the Hong Kong Anthropological Society on Wednesay. We will discuss the pilgrimage to Mecca, how Hajj is organised from Hong Kong, and modern changes and challenges to the pilgrimage.
White woman washes dishes in Hong Kong restaraunt!
From the BadCanto blog we have a report on the story of a white woman who washes dishes in Yaumatei restaurant. It is one of those stories that disrupts some of the preconceptions of Hong Kong. Whenever we see a white person engaged in menial labour in Hong Kong it is reported as something peculiar and exotic. In recent years we have had a similar report on an Australian man who drove a mini-bus in Sai Kung, and also an expose on white Cantopop singer.
A cursory look into the history of Hong Kong highlights that this is not so unusual. Forman (2004) acknowledges the writings of James Daziel and notes that despite popular representations the colonial machine was far from a uniform and bourgeois affair. In the late 19th and early 20th century Hong Kong attracted all manner of Europeans to the colony as sailors, vagabonds, and sex workers.
The responses of netizens to this story from the Apple Daily challenge the trope of oriental orientalism that considers white people in Hong Kong as always being wealthy, disinterested in local culture, and ultimately not Hong-Kongers. There is indeed criticism of this, but at the same time if images of white people in mundane positions such as this are overlooked then the sort of understanding of difference that Hong Kong needs to achieve is not going to happen.
Here again is the post from ChinaSmack that imagines and presents white people as the future migrant workers of China.
I’m giving a talk in a few weeks at Hong Kong Anthropological Society on the Modern organisation of the Hajj and experiences of Hong Kong pilgrims.
Wednesday 16 October 2013, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
The annual pilgrimage to Mecca is both a sacred religious rite and an incredible human and logistical feat. This talk explores the hajj in the 21st century, explaining both the ancient rites and the experiences of Muslims making the pilgrimage from Hong Kong. How do Muslims prepare to make hajj, what are the challenges of the modern pilgrimage, and what can we learn about hajj from the Hong Kong perspective? Through a variety of accounts we come to see the profound spiritual journey that Muslims encounter and also the more quotidian challenges of the pilgrimage. Whilst travel to Mecca has become more accessible, affordable and less hazardous over the centuries, it continues to pose numerous challenges. In exploring these issues, a series of connections are made between the lives of Muslims and the rhythms of the modern globalized Mecca.
"The key message is that through our fears of being left out and excluded, we have gleefully taken the responsibility of our own monitoring—always available, always able to be monitored. Perhaps the more subtle theme of the book is that we, too, whilst being watched, are also always watching."
I just finished submitting my review of the Bauman and Lyon book for CSR. I thought I would include these final comments here as they are just so topical in the light of the Snowden affair and continued revelations of the U.S. and U.K. government, and NSA.
One thing I mention in the review is that the book doesn’t talk a great deal about how the same technologies are being used to cast critique back at, and undermine, governments, businesses, and individuals that are doing the surveillance. This has been picked up nicely in Cyborgology with the humorous subversion of online surveillance. The ludic tweets they note, force the issue that although we remain complicit in using these technologies, we also know what is going on. Resistance through play, like Axel Foley and the Banana in the tailpipe!