Navigating belonging for South Asians in Hong Kong
Project Description

The central question for this research is: What does it mean to belong, for people from South Asian backgrounds in Hong Kong? The research project is currently in development, and the project proposal will be submitted to the Research Grants Council in November 2021. Students recruited on the UROP scheme will contribute to the development of the bid, in the autumn term, and will support preliminary work to take place in the spring term.
The project itself will involve working with a trans-generational group of people from South Asian backgrounds in Hong Kong, alongside a photographer and in collaboration with a support organisation. We will explore experiences of belonging through oral narrative and participatory photography. The project aims to understand how people from across the generations in South Asian communities define, understand, find and negotiate their belonging in Hong Kong, and the perspective is from the inside out. This work addresses an urgent social need: at a time of change in contemporary Hong Kong, established ideas of belonging in terms of cultural and linguistic homogeneity are inadequate, are increasingly being challenged and require scrutiny. We ask how belonging emerges in and through narrative and photography, how (with participants and partners) we can develop innovative approaches to researching belonging, and how our new theoretically-grounded understandings of belonging can be used to critically examine policies and practices around social integration, and around language and arts practice.

Course type
Applicant's Roles

Up to two students will be recruited under the UROP scheme, for work in 2021/22. The work of the student(s) will involve supporting the project in practical ways, in the run-up to submission of the bid, and in the months before the funded period. All undergraduate students are welcome to apply, and the roles would particularly suit students with a knowledge of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities. There are four aspects to the research activity, spanning the fall and spring terms.
1. To contribute to planning and running a Stakeholder Seminar in early October 2021. This event will involve small invited group of potential collaborators, partners and stakeholders (academics, policy stakeholders, NGO organisations, creative practitioners) to explain the project plan, and to involve them in shaping the project and refining the research questions.
2. To contribute to the literature review for the project, identifying and recording government policy documents relating to the social, political and educational concerns of South Asians in Hong Kong.
3. To contribute to preparatory / pilot work by conducting, transcribing and contributing to the analysis of a small number of interviews with potential participants.
4. To act as a cultural broker on behalf of the lead researcher Professor Simpson, to act as a link or mediator between academic researchers and Hong Kong residents from South Asian backgrounds.

Applicant's Learning Objectives

By the end of the spring term, students will be able to do the following, relating to aspects of the role:
1. Support the organisation and management of an online seminar for project stakeholders.
2. Identify policy-related literature and organise this within a bibliographic resource.
3. Use an interview schedule to carry out a semi-structured interview, and analyse language (narrative) data.
4. Apply their own knowledge of Hong Kong to aid cultural understanding.

Complexity of the project