Everyday Hybridity

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

Lecturing in Anthropology at CUHK

Me

cuhk.academia.edu/PaulOConnor
@peejayohhsee
everydayhybridity@gmail.com

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My Publications
What is Everyday Hybridity?


Posts on Hybridity
Posts on Hong Kong
Posts on Islam
Posts on Skateboarding

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  1. "I think that thousands of teachers are engaged in schools and universities the length and breadth of the country, on a daily basis, in the business of promoting not an anxious and self-lacerating kulturkampf, but a culture of confidently evolving and genuine enquiry. It is this that the students - whether in hijabs or hoodies - hearken to. For me, the argument about whether British society should respond to its multicultural reality by becoming a super-heated melting pot or an un-tossed salad bowl is based on a false opposition. Both positions bespeak an attitude to culture that is inherently ossified."
     
     
  2. This evening I attended the Eid feast of the Anatolia Cultural & Dialog Centre in Wanchai. There was an interesting mix of guests and some engaging debate. This was all topped off by some delicious food, and free flowing tea. I look forward to returning.

    Ruslan gave an introductory talk on the meaning of the Eid feast, and Sam Wong gave a speech on Australian Multiculturalism. There was a good deal of exchange on the need to create harmony and live in acceptance of each other. I was perhaps a bit too polemic on the pitfalls of vapid platitudes of multiculturalism and the need for a more engaged ‘everyday multiculturalism’ facilitated in the mundane spaces of the urban environment. However, in the spirit of the occasion, I was tolerated.

    It was a good event with a great mix of people, and that is what it is all about!

     
     
  3. On October 18th at the University of Queensland Associate Professor of Sociology Anita Harris will be giving a seminar on young people in Australia and their multicultural belongings. It is a great topic and for all those in the Brisbane area, well worth the visit.

    Here is the abstract

    What does it mean to come of age in an era of anti-multiculturalism? How does such an environment shape the ways young people of diverse backgrounds come to feel ‘at home’ - in the nation, in the city, in their neighbourhoods, and in their Australian identity? Discussing findings from her study of youth in the multicultural suburbs of five Australian cities, Anita Harris explores how the politics of belonging is lived through the spatial practices of everyday civic life for those who have grown up during the multiculturalism backlash of the 1990s and 2000s.

     
     
  4. Some folks have contacted me asking how to get hold of the book. It should be in the shops in Hong Kong by now, it is also easy to pick up a copy at HKU book shop on campus. Perhaps the easiest way to get hold of it is from HKU Press website. However they changed the webpage link and all my old web links haven’t been working for the last couple of days.
So here it is again. Thanks to everyone who has been following the news of the book, and those who have already managed to get hold of a copy.
It won’t be out in the US and UK till November, then you can get it on Amazon.

    Some folks have contacted me asking how to get hold of the book. It should be in the shops in Hong Kong by now, it is also easy to pick up a copy at HKU book shop on campus. Perhaps the easiest way to get hold of it is from HKU Press website. However they changed the webpage link and all my old web links haven’t been working for the last couple of days.

    So here it is again. Thanks to everyone who has been following the news of the book, and those who have already managed to get hold of a copy.

    It won’t be out in the US and UK till November, then you can get it on Amazon.

     
     
  5. The book is published!
A little ahead of schedule, and now available from HKU Press. In the coming weeks it will appear on Amazon, in local bookstores, and slowly start making its way to libraries.
Thanks for all the interest from my Tumblr followers, friends, colleagues, research participants and everyone else who has contributed in one way or another.
Keep posted for further news about the release.
Here are some of the book’s endorsements….
"An unexpected gem. An innovative book which explores the everyday lived reality of Muslim minorities in Hong Kong. The contemporary focus is framed by a fascinating history of South Asian Muslims which reaches back into the early 19th century. This beautifully wrought study sheds a great deal of light on a range of issues impacting Muslim minorities: from the extent of hybridity—adapting basketball spaces to cricket—to the challenge of eating halal in a culinary culture where pork is ubiquitous! Young Muslims in Hong Kong face racism and their inability to access Chinese language schools has huge implications for employment and social mobility. However, Islam is respected and they are not seen through a security lens. In all, a hopeful study." — Philip Lewis, author of Islamic Britain and Young, British and Muslim "There has long been a need for a book-length account of Muslims in Hong Kong; this readable and informative book admirably fills the void. Anyone interested in how Muslims make their lives and practice their faith in the Chinese city of Hong Kong should definitely read it." — Gordon Mathews, author of Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong "In this insightful and fascinating book, O’Connor walks us through the bustling streets of Hong Kong, where space, civility, hope and freedom are created every day by the territory’s diverse Muslims. It provides a rare glimpse into an imperfect, but perhaps ‘good enough’ cosmopolitanism, lived in the schools, homes, shops and lives of ordinary people. Amidst the worry and panic about young Muslims in diaspora as either problems or victims, this is a refreshing and much-needed account of the valuable ways a global city deals with difference. An essential text for scholars and students of youth, diversity and contemporary multiculturalism." — Anita Harris, author of Young People and Everyday Multiculturalism

    The book is published!

    A little ahead of schedule, and now available from HKU Press. In the coming weeks it will appear on Amazon, in local bookstores, and slowly start making its way to libraries.

    Thanks for all the interest from my Tumblr followers, friends, colleagues, research participants and everyone else who has contributed in one way or another.

    Keep posted for further news about the release.

    Here are some of the book’s endorsements….

    "An unexpected gem. An innovative book which explores the everyday lived reality of Muslim minorities in Hong Kong. The contemporary focus is framed by a fascinating history of South Asian Muslims which reaches back into the early 19th century. This beautifully wrought study sheds a great deal of light on a range of issues impacting Muslim minorities: from the extent of hybridity—adapting basketball spaces to cricket—to the challenge of eating halal in a culinary culture where pork is ubiquitous! Young Muslims in Hong Kong face racism and their inability to access Chinese language schools has huge implications for employment and social mobility. However, Islam is respected and they are not seen through a security lens. In all, a hopeful study." — Philip Lewis, author of Islamic Britain and Young, British and Muslim 

    "There has long been a need for a book-length account of Muslims in Hong Kong; this readable and informative book admirably fills the void. Anyone interested in how Muslims make their lives and practice their faith in the Chinese city of Hong Kong should definitely read it." — Gordon Mathews, author of Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong 

    "In this insightful and fascinating book, O’Connor walks us through the bustling streets of Hong Kong, where space, civility, hope and freedom are created every day by the territory’s diverse Muslims. It provides a rare glimpse into an imperfect, but perhaps ‘good enough’ cosmopolitanism, lived in the schools, homes, shops and lives of ordinary people. Amidst the worry and panic about young Muslims in diaspora as either problems or victims, this is a refreshing and much-needed account of the valuable ways a global city deals with difference. An essential text for scholars and students of youth, diversity and contemporary multiculturalism." — Anita Harris, author of Young People and Everyday Multiculturalism

     
     
  6. Dealing with hybridity

    All debates on social difference walk a precarious path between respect and offence. This is ever more the case when we deal with visual representations of difference and what they connote.

    When we debate cultural appropriation there is often a great deal of animosity towards the superficial adoption of ethnic dress. The backlash is founded on the argument that an ethnic group and culture is being humiliated and trivialised. Authenticity, that most slippery and ambiguous social measure, is then called upon to pull rank.

    However we all recognise that dress, while it may have very important and even sacred associations, is simply that, dress. Anyone can wear clothing. Whilst other cultural traits are much more difficult to adopt and foster. One cannot easily speak a language they do not know, practice customs, prepare traditional foods, recognise a sense of kinship, or simply change skin tone and physiognomy. 

    What we see in others is however very important. Especially when we see reflections of ourselves. 

    In one of the two photos above I highlight how we have a Chinese girl emulating the Disney Snow White performer at Hong Kong DIsneyland. The second photo is a still from the short, 'A Girl Like Me', which reconstructs the Clark’s doll tests from the late 1930s and early 40s. This doll test gave African American students the choice of two dolls to play with, one black and one white. The experiment found that consistently the children would choose to play with the white doll and that they also attributed positive characteristics towards the white doll and negative sentiments towards the black doll. 

    In the 'Girl Like Me' video the Clark’s doll test is replicated and found to have the same results.

    So in terms of hybridity it doesn’t matter that a Chinese girl worships a blonde Goldilocks, but it does matter when a child has a negative view of their own ethnicity. Or in reference to my post yesterday about the Taiwanese plastic surgery advert.

    Culture and ethnicity are not static. As social constructs they move and alter with the caprices of our age. Guarding the boundaries of culture over ethnic dress and costume is a job that will not disappear any time soon. However, we must also recognise that in essentialising difference in certain social roles and status we are also aiding the negative construction of racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes. 

    Ethnicity and culture are tied to places, histories, and politics. Dealing with our contemporary hybridity provides the opportunity compose new ethnicities and citizenship apropos for our societies. But, I caution, the identity and gender politics of one part of the world does not seamlessly translate to other places, or in fact other times.

    Let’s have Asian princesses at Disneyland and bearded workers too, and Indian Barbies with adopted white babies, and lets do more than hope that the Clark’s doll test will yield different results in the years to come.

     
     
  7. The world in a city
Deviating from the idea of Chungking Mansions as the world in a building, this interactive chart from the Guardian looks at the international makeup of London.

    The world in a city

    Deviating from the idea of Chungking Mansions as the world in a building, this interactive chart from the Guardian looks at the international makeup of London.

     
     
  8. A lecture to help re-launch the Identities journal. Sounds interesting as is the journal contents.

     
     
  9. thesungoesgaga:

    A thumbs up book. Think #globalculture now !

    This is indeed an interesting book. I shall look further into it. But the fundamental issue with multiculturalism is that it is a policy. A policy that doesn’t address what is necessarily lived in real multicultural setting; street level multiculture. Another great book that looks at this issue is Everyday Multiculturalism by Wise and Velautham 2009. Part of the problem that is now posed by multiculturalism is the backlash, and this book tries to progress our understanding of multiculturalism beyond policy and the celebration of difference.

     
     
  10. Hong Kong Taxis voted 3rd best in world. 

An interesting little piece of news. Certainly both London and New York taxis are superb, how can you compete with ‘the knowledge’? Yet Hong Kong taxis are remarkable for the fact that they are both so cheap and also linguistically obtainable. 

Taxi drivers in this city excel in being tri-lingual. Many speak Cantonese, Enlgish, and Mandarin. I have encountered some that speak some Japanese and also French. You wouldn’t get that in London. 

It is just another example of Hong Kong’s everyday hybridity. A top notch polyglot taxi service at a bargain price.

    Hong Kong Taxis voted 3rd best in world.

    An interesting little piece of news. Certainly both London and New York taxis are superb, how can you compete with ‘the knowledge’? Yet Hong Kong taxis are remarkable for the fact that they are both so cheap and also linguistically obtainable.

    Taxi drivers in this city excel in being tri-lingual. Many speak Cantonese, Enlgish, and Mandarin. I have encountered some that speak some Japanese and also French. You wouldn’t get that in London.

    It is just another example of Hong Kong’s everyday hybridity. A top notch polyglot taxi service at a bargain price.