Ethnic Minorities, Hong Kong Chineseness, and the Politics of Stranger-relations

November 04, 2015


As metropolitan as Hong Kong is, there is strange silence on the subject of strangers.  Meanwhile, there is an urgent need to grapple with the politics of stranger-relations in a city that has seen more and more overt conflicts arising from various forms of socioeconomic and cultural dissatisfaction.  I wish in this lecture to offer my own thinking on the political epistemology of the stranger in order to better mark the present time-space of Hong Kong.  Over the past few years, I have raised the question of racial minority politics as a specific form of stranger politics that, in my mind, has been under constant erasure in Hong Kong.  I am puzzled about a void amidst the intellectual effort made to theorize “Hong Kong identity” ever since the complicated moment of the “1997 question” led to an unprecedented intellectual preoccupation on who the “local” was and what kind of politics of the local would take the people of Hong Kong to survive its future.  That void is, to put it sharply, the dearth of attention paid to the role racial and ethnic difference played in the identity politics of the local, in terms of historical consciousness, language politics, media representation, and identity politics.  The questions I pose here are: what social and discursive forms do racialized strangers in Hong Kong take, and how do these forms of “outsiderliness on the inside” relate to the majority’s preoccupation with, and defense of, “Hong Kong Chineseness”?


Dr. John Nguyet Erni

Chair Professor in Humanities & Department Head
Department of Humanities & Creative Writing
Hong Kong Baptist University


John Nguyet Erni is Chair Professor in Humanities and Head of the Department of Humanities & Creative Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University.  He was a recipient of the Rockefeller and Annenberg research fellowships.  He is also an elected Fellow and Member of the Executive of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities.  Erni has published widely on international and Asia-based cultural studies, human rights legal criticism, Chinese consumption of transnational culture, gender and sexuality in media culture, youth popular consumption in Hong Kong and Asia, and critical public health.  His books include (In)visible Colors: Images of Non-Chinese in Hong Kong Cinema – A Filmography, 1970s – 2010s (with Louis Ho, Cinezin Press, forthcoming in 2016); Feeling Ethnic: Visuality, Emotions, and Minority Culture (forthcoming in 2016, Springer); Understanding South Asian Minorities in Hong Kong (with Lisa Leung, HKUP, 2014); Cultural Studies of Rights: Critical Articulations (Routledge, 2011); Internationalizing Cultural Studies: An Anthology (with Ackbar Abbas, Blackwell, 2005); Asian Media Studies: The Politics of Subjectivities (with Siew Keng Chua, Blackwell, 2005); and Unstable Frontiers: Technomedicine and the Cultural Politics of “Curing” AIDS (Minnesota, 1994).  Currently, he is completing a book project on the legal modernity of rights.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

4:30 - 6:00 pm

SFU Segal Building
Room 4800
500 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1W6


Reservation required
Please reserve online by October 30


  • SFU David Lam Centre
  • UBC - Hong Kong Canada Crosscurrents
  • Hong Kong Baptist University