Gordon MATHEWS

Research Projects


  • Chungking Mansions as a "Global Building"
  • MATHEWS Gordon Clark
    1 September 2007
    Research Grants Council (Earmarked Grants)

    Chungking Mansions is a dilapidated building full of cheap guesthouses, restaurants, and retail and wholesale businesses, located in the heart of Hong Kong’s tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui. It is a center of “low-end globalization” in Hong Kong—it is where small entrepreneurs from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa come to seek their fortunes--and is perhaps the most cosmopolitan building in the world, with people from across the globe living within its narrow confines. In this research, I seek to understand the people who reside in Chungking Mansions--how they make their livings and comprehend their lives--and Chungking Mansions itself, in the complex roles it plays within worldwide processes of globalization and global trade. I will pursue this understanding through extended ethnographic research: I will live in Chungking Mansions for 300 nights over three years, interacting with and interviewing its residents, and will accompany 12 entrepreneurs in Chungking Mansions in their journeys to China and back to their home countries, in order to understand their lives and trade in a transnational context. The result of this research will be a book explicating Chungking Mansions and adding a significant new perspective to the anthropological study of globalization. (CU07488)


  • Chungking Mansions As a Hub of "Grassroots Globalization"
  • MATHEWS Gordon Clark
    1 April 2006
    CUHK Research Committee Funding (Direct Grants)

    Chungking Mansions is a center of .grassroots globalization. in Hong Kong: it is where small entrepreneurs from Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ghana, among other countries, come to seek their fortunes in limited transnational trade. In this research I investigate the following questions: 1) What has led these sojourners to Hong Kong? What kinds of lives do they lead in Hong Kong, and back in their home countries? How does their sojourn in Hong Kong relate to their senses of global, national, and local identity? 2) Between Hong Kong and their home countries, what exactly are the economic activities they are engaged in, and what role do these activities play in processes of globalization? 3) What can Chungking Mansions as a whole teach us about globalization, and developing/developed societies and their interrelation? I will investigate these questions by a) living in Chungking Mansions for four months (returning to CUHK by day to work) over the course of a year, coming to know sojourners in Chungking Mansions through extended participant-observation and interviews, and b) traveling with several sojourners back to their home countries, to accompany them in their business and personal dealings. I have already had considerable experience in Chungking Mansions, and can ascertain that a) most transnational business conducted by sojourners in Chungking Mansions is legal, and b) Chungking Mansions is a safer place than is generally supposed. I intend to turn this project into a larger, long-term research project, and eventually to write a book about Chungking Mansions. (AL05414)


  • On Learning to Belong to a Nation: A Comparison of Hong Kong, Chinese, and American Young People’s Senses of National Identity
  • MATHEWS Gordon Clark
    1 December 2002
    CUHK Research Committee Funding (Direct Grants)

    “The idea of a man without a nation seems to impose a strain on the modern imagination,” Ernest Gellner has written. However, Hong Kong has been one of the few places in the world in which Gellner’s statement has not applied, at least until 1 July 1997. in this project, I seek to find out how Hong Kong students today describe what it means to belong to their nation, and I seek to compare what these students say with what students from mainland China and the United States say about belonging to the nation. There is a significant difference between the sense of nation as ethnicity held by Chinese students and the sense of nation as civic principle held by Americans. However, a bigger difference is between Chinese and American students, who have been trained since early childhood to “love their country”, and Hong Kong students, many of whom have only recently been learning to “love their country.” How do the discourses of “belonging to a country” vary between and among these three groups of students? How do the processes of their socialization into national identity differ from and resemble one another? Most broadly, to what extent might some Hong Kong students, in their hesitation towards loving their country, represent a colonial past in a present world of national belonging, and to what extent might they represent a globalized future, in which identity comes to be based more on the world market than on the national state? (SS02712)



Research Publications


  • A Collision of Discourses: Japanese and Hong Kong Chinese during the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands Crisis. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1999.
    (CUHK Library Call No: UL H62.5.H6 H62 no.94; UL HK Studies H62.5.H6 H62 no.94)



  • "A Collision of Discourses: Japanese and Hong Kong Chinese During the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands Crisis". In Globalizing Japan Ethnography of the Japanese Presence in Asia, Europe, and America, ed. by HARUMI Befu and GUICHARD-ANGVIS Slyvie. pp.153-175. London and New York: Routledge, 2001.
    (CUHK Library Call No: UL HF1601 .G56 2001; Also Available Online)



  • "Comparative Patriotisms: How Hong Kong, Chinese, and American Students Understand "Loving Their Country."" Paper presented in the East Asian Anthropology/Anthropology in East Asia, organized by Society for East Asian Anthropology/Department of Anthropology, CUHK, Hong Kong, 13 July 2006



  • Consuming Hong Kong.(co-edited with Tai-Lok Lui) Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2001.
    (CUHK Library Call No: UL Reserve HC428.H6 C66 2001; UL HK Studies HC428.H6 C66 2001)



  • "Cultural Identity and Consumption in Post-Colonial Hong Kong". In Consuming Hong Kong, ed. by Mathews Gordon Clark and Tai-Lok Lui. pp.287-317. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2001
    (CUHK Library Call No: UL Reserve HC428.H6 C66 2001; UL HK Studies HC428.H6 C66 2001)



  • Global culture/individual identity: searching for home in the cultural supermarket. London; New York: Routledge, 2000.
    (CUHK Library Call No: UL Reserve HM753 .M37 2000; Also Available Online)



  • "The Global Parade (including the Japanese) at Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong". Paper presented in the Global Japan Seminars, organized by Europe-Japan Research Centre, Oxford Brookes, U.K., 6 Feb 2008



  • Hong Kong, China: learning to belong to a nation. (co-edited with Eric Kit-wai Ma, and Tai-lok Lui) London; New York: Routledge, 2008.
    (CUHK Library Call No: UL HK Studies DS796.H757 M344 2008; CC Reserve DS796.H757 M344 2008)



  • "Hong Kong Chinese Professors within the "Western" University Model". Paper presented in the American Anthropological Association 105th Annual Meeting, organized by American Anthropological Association, San Jose, California, 15 Nov 2006



  • "Hong Kong's Resistance to National Identity: Echo of a Colonial Past or Harbinger of a Globalized Future". Paper presented in the Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, organized by Monash University, Prato, Italy, July 2004



  • "How Hong Kong People are Learning to Be Chinese: Mass Media and National Belonging since 1 July 1997". Paper presented in the Media Technology, Creative Industries, and Culture Significance, organized by Communication Arts Research Institute, Taipei, Taiwan, 22 Sep 2004



  • "Images of Japan in Hong Kong after July 1/ July 2, 1997". Paper presented in the Regional Conference on Japanese Studies in East and Sathe "Discourses on Japan after the East Asian Economic Crisis", organized by The Center for Japanese Studies, University of Indonesia. Jakarta, Indonesia, July 2001



  • "Learning to Belong to a Nation in Hong Kong". Anthropology News. Vol. 44 No.3, pp. 41-42. Related Research Project Title: "On Learning to Belong to a Nation: A Comparison of Hong Kong, Chinese, and American Senses of National Identity." Project Reference: Direct Grant. Arlington, Virginia, USA: American Anthropological Association, East Asia Section, March 2003
    (CUHK Library Call No: UL Periodical GN2 .A227)



  • "Learning to Belong to a Nation: The Continuing Exception of Hong Kong". Paper presented in the International Symposium on National Identity and the Future Cross-Strait Relations, organized by University of Macau, Macau, 16 Dec 2004



  • "On Learning (Fitfully) to Love One's Country: Hong Kong and the Global Meanings of National Identity". Paper presented in the Ethnography and Social Theory Colloquium, organized by Yale University, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, Department of Anthropology, 7 Feb 2005



  • "On Learning to Belong to a Nation: Hong Kong People and Chineseness Today." Paper presented in Fourth Annual Meeting of the Hong Kong Sociological Association, "Representing Social Life: Conflicts and Identities, Hong Kong Baptist University: Hong Kong Sociological Association, 9 Nov 2002



  • "State and Market in the Shaping of Cultural Identity: Hong Kong and Elsewhere". Paper presented in the 98th Annual Meeting of American Sociological Association, organized by American Sociological Association, Atlanta, U.S.A., 17 Aug 2003



  • "State and Market in the Shaping of Cultural Identity: The Extraordinary Exception of Hong Kong". Paper presented in the Department of Sociology Seminar, Hong Kong Baptist University, organized by Department of Sociology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong SAR, 11 Dec 2003



  • "State and Market in the Shaping of National Identity: The Strange Exception of Hong Kong". Paper presented in the Invited Lecture at Singapore Management University, organized by Singapore Management University, Singapore, 30 March 2004



  • "The Struggle Between 'Japanese' and 'Non-Japanese' Among Japanese in Hong Kong". (co-authored with Sone Ayako) Paper presented in the 10th International Conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies, organized by European Association for Japanese Studies, Warsaw, Poland, 28 Aug 2003


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