Centre of Urban History, Culture and Media

Story of the Month - November 2017



According to the 2016 Census, there are over 46,000 non-Chinese minority students enrolled in local primary and secondary schools, many of whom are of South Asian origin. How do these minority students cope with the local school system while maintaining their heritage culture?

Centre member Prof. Michelle GU Min-yue, a scholar in education, has conducted a study on a group of teenage female secondary students originated from Pakistan. Some of them were born in Hong Kong; others were born in Pakistan and migrated with their family for years. They are all fluent in English and Urdu, and while their written Chinese proficiency is not high, they can communicate in Cantonese.

Prof. Gu found that these girls face multiple marginalization. At home, they face pressure from their gendered heritage custom, such as the unequal position between females and males, and the cultural imposition of arranged marriage at a young age thereby making university education inaccessible. In the larger society, they encounter various types of exclusion due to stereotypes about South Asian “cultural deficiencies” and mainstream society’s insensitivity to the cultural and/or religious practices of ethnic minority groups.

Yet the Pakistani girls are not just passive victims of negative stereotypes. Take one girl’s experience on the MTR as an example. When a local Chinese expressed racist comments about her scarf and skin color in Cantonese, thinking that she did not understand Cantonese. She responded by taking out her phone and speaking in Cantonese. Speaking the language of the majority has afforded her a measure of self-empowerment. 

Prof. Gu’s research shows that these participants, as active agents adopt culturally, religiously, behaviourally and linguistically grounded strategies to make the most of the opportunities they have or hope to gain access to. In the meantime they devise the strategies to circumvent the obstacles that they expect to encounter along the way. They also continue to establish new relationships with their surroundings and construct multiple identities as Pakistani, Muslim, female and internationally oriented Hong Kong people, in different contexts in which they navigate. While mainstream culture has to a certain extent released Pakistani girls from the oppression and pressure of religion and customs, more guidance and support is needed to realize their dreams, and to make this release less temporary and uncertain.



Michelle Gu 

Photo of Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong. Sham Shui Po is one of the districts where many Pakistanis reside.


[Click here to view previous Stories of the Month]

Event Recap

Moods and Emotions through Indian Kathak Dance

On 21 September 2017, there was an Indian classical dance program “Moods & Emotions through Indian Kathak Dance” organized at CUHK campus. Please click here for event recap.


中山大學社會學與人類學學院、教育部長江學者特聘教授周大鳴教授於2017年3月來港訪問,舉辦學術講座和工作坊,與本地學者和學生交流。活動由香港中文大學人類學系主辦,都市歷史、文化與傳媒研究中心協辦。 按此瀏覽活動回顧.

Imagining the Future: Community Innovation and Social Resilience in Asia

The Centre of Urban History, Culture and Media, CUHK organized its first international conference entitled "Imagining the Future: Community Innovation and Social Resilience in Asia" on 23-25 February 2017. Please click here for event recap.

Our Mission

Mission Statement

To investigate how cultural diversity is beneficial to social resilience regarding the development and strategic planning of future cosmopolitan cities. We seek to enhance the concerns of whether and how ethnic minorities of different types are marginalized, stigmatized and even rejected; and to understand what and how public engagements help to bring people with various cultural and political interests together in the current socio-political environment.


  • To investigate the causes of marginalization of specific groups, and how these groups could be made to feel more accepted;
  • To investigate the tension between the integration and diversity of society and how culture is inherent in a complex industrial society;
  • To identify the institutional and cultural reservoirs that foster social resilience and trust.

Research Keywords

Cultural Diversity; Social Resilience; Community Innovation


o Siumi Maria TAM 譚少薇


1. Managing Urban Diversity Programme
o Raees Begum BAIG 碧樺依
Joseph BOSCO 林舟
o CHEN Ju-chen 陳如珍
o CHENG Sealing 鄭詩靈
o CHOW Pui-ha Carol 周佩霞
o GU Ming-yue, Michelle 谷明月
o HUANG Weishan 黃維珊
o LAU Ying Chui Janice 劉影翠
o ONG Kok Chung 王國璋
o SONG Jing 宋婧
o SUEN Yiu tung 孫耀東

2. Social Resilience and Cultural Policy Programme
o CHANG Ping-hung Wallace 鄭炳鴻
o CHEUNG Chin-hung Sidney 張展鴻
o CHEUNG Katherine 張家蓮
o LAM Wengcheong 林永昌
o MA Shu-yun 馬樹人
o TAM Wai Ping 譚偉平
o WONG Wai-yee Sharon 黃慧怡

Postdoctoral Fellow:
TANG Wai-man 鄧偉文


Recent Projects

Social Resilience and Oyster Farming in the Global Context

Multiculturalism in Action Workshops:

Pakistani Culture Workshop: Making a Change for the Better (2015-16)

Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan Culture Workshop (2016-17)

Recent Activities

Languages as a Boundary Ma(r)ker: Dignity, Motherhood and Everyday Multiculturalism

非聲香港嘉年華 Africa in Hong Kong Carnival

New Book Sharing Session + ICONIC Mums Documentaries Screening & Sharing Session

The Causes and Consequences of LGBTQ Youth Homelessness: A Case Study of Atlanta, Georgia USA

Moods & Emotions through Indian Kathak Dance

鳳凰村的變遷:都市人類學工作坊 (講者:周大鳴教授)

學術講座-聚落與交通:道路網路與中國城鄉社會結構變遷 (講者:周大鳴教授)

International Conference on Imagining the Future: Community Innovation and Social Resilience in Asia

SEMINAR: Endangered Fathers?: Masculinity Crisis and Reflexivity in Times of Change by Prof. Mario Liong

South Asian Films Mini Series - The Necklace

South Asian Films Mini Series - A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

WORKSHOP: Annual Gender Role Workshop 2016: Gender and Urban Space (co-organized with Gender Research Center)

SEMINAR: The Material Culture and Activism at Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore by Prof. Chee-Kien Lai

SEMINAR: Overseas Death, Burial Practices, and Ancestral Worship: An Interpretation for Cremation Practices among Diasporic Chinese in the Philippines by Prof. Gyo Miyahara

SEMINAR: Pluralities in the Margin: Community, Religion and Agriculture along Singapore's Abandoned Railway Lines by Prof Chee-Kien Lai

FIELDTRIP: Assessment Tour to Wolong, Sichuan (四川卧龍)

FIELDTRIP: The Nepali Community In Jordan And Yau Ma Tei

FIELDTRIP: Understanding Kodo And Kyogen From Two Japanese Masters


Contact Us

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