Allie Kwong speaking to the Society in July 2015 on beliefs about life after death
Details of upcoming talks and other activities are posted here. After each talk, those attending are invited to a self-paying dinner at the Chiu Chow City restaurant across the square from the Hong Kong History Museum, where discussion can be continued informally. For fuller information on the society's activities (including archived abstracts of all talks since 1996) visit the HKAS website.Versions of Candy Yu's presentation on the Manila hostage crisis and Wu Liang's on seafarers can be read on-line in the Hong Kong Anthropologist. The PowerPoint presentation of John Whelpton's January 2012 talk on Christianity in Nepalcan be downloaded from the Nepal page on his site.
Familiar Strangers:Social Media and the Outsider in Chinese Kinship An anthropological talk by Tom McDONALD Wednesday, 18 January 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Hong Kong Museum of History Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Anthropological accounts of social relations within Chinese society have traditionally viewed both kinship and familiarity as the basis of relationships between persons, which has inevitably led to the exclusion of strangers from the majority of attempts to theorize such relations. This lecture draws on ethnographic evidence collected during 15 months of fieldwork studying the impact of social media use in a rural Chinese town, which revealed the nature of these novel relationships with strangers which are facilitated by social media, showing how these encounters need to be understood in relation to the specific rural context in which participants reside.
Through these ethnographic cases and observations, this lecture will argue that participants do not position strangers that they meet on social media outside of their network of social relations. Instead, the mediatized relationships offered by social media come to represent a ready source of potential friends with whom they are both eager and willing to interact. On occasion it is actually these strangers who individuals feel they can most easily confide in, and share intimate feelings – or experiences – with.
This lecture will thus conclude by arguing that improved models for understanding Chinese social relationships are needed, which are capable of understanding the stranger as integral, rather than antithetical to sociality.
Tom McDONALD is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong.
Anthropology in Reverse: South Asian Visitors in 19th Century London An anthropological talk by John WHELPTON Friday, 10 February 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Hong Kong Museum of History Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Anthropology has most typically involved the study and analysis of the culture of technically less advanced societies by scholars born or socialised into more advanced ones. This talk looks instead at the impression of European societies gained by travelers from South Asia in the 19th century. The focus is mainly on the 1850 visit to London and Paris by Jang Bahadur Rana, founder of the Rana family regime which ruled Nepal from 1846 to 1951.
One of Jang’s companions produced an account of this expedition for circulation in Kathmandu and his perspective can be compared with European press reporting on the Nepalese embassy, the memoirs of the British liaison officer who accompanied it and the reactions to British society of `Lutfullah’, a Muslim visitor to London in the 1840s and Dilip Hiro, an Indian engineer arriving in the 1950s.
Most intriguingly we also now have an account of the 1850 visit penned, with the assistance of one or more British collaborators, by a Nepalese crossing sweeper recruited by Jang in London as an interpreter and inter-cultural consultant. These sources provide a window into perceptions of royal power, the Hindu caste system, and the contrast in relations between the sexes in South Asia and Europe. Above all, they illustrate the complex way in which observers’ own culture and interests shape their perceptions.
John WHELPTON taught English in Nepal in 1972-74 and has since then continued research into the country’s history and politics. His publications include A History of Nepal (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Jang Bahadur in Europe: the First Nepalese Mission to the West (2nd. edition, Mandala Book Point, 2016). He is an honorary research associate at the Catholic Studies Centre in the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Following the talk, you are invited to a self-paying dinner with the speaker.
Hong Kong Anthropologist
Issues of this on-line journal, with a special emphasis on presenting the work of younger anthropologists, can be downloaded here.