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Lecture and lunch - The Middle Class and Interwar Hong Kong's Multiracial Civil Society - Dr. Vivian Kong

  • Royal Asiatic Society 14 Stephenson Way London, England, NW1 2HD United Kingdom (map)

For those who could afford it, interwar Hong Kong had a vibrant social world. Apart from the many clubs, dinner parties, and sport events that one could attend, various civic institutions were also emerging in the colony. Scholars have explored the social lives and political careers of Chinese and Eurasian bourgeoisie in pre-war Hong Kong. Such findings hint at the emergence in interwar Hong Kong of a group of urbanites with knowledge, wealth, some power, and most importantly, a strong civic consciousness to shape the society that they lived in, a phenomenon shared by other port cities in colonial Asia. While recent research done on this phenomenon has considered how civic institutions affected the dynamics of urban Asia’s social world, these studies focus overwhelmingly on transnational associational culture and neglect the many co-existing local organizations, with which transnational associations shared a strikingly similar membership. This paper takes international networks – Freemasonry and the Rotary Club – and local organizations – the League of Fellowship and Kowloon Resident’s Association – as case studies to explore how Hong Kong’s multiracial civil society functioned within the framework of Britishness in the interwar years. In doing so, this paper also examines the roles that emerging middle-class urbanites and their self-identified status as non-elites played in Hong Kong’s multi-racial civil society.

Vivian Kong has recently completed her PhD at the University of Bristol. She is preparing a book manuscript that examines the complexity of Britishness in interwar Hong Kong. With its multi-ethnic population, urban setting, and transnational connections, Hong Kong enabled Britishness to be so much more than just ‘race’, legal identity, and national belonging. It was also an imperial tool, a civic sensibility, and a cultural attribute.

Cost: £8 per member or £12 guest, to include refreshments

Lunch: A self-paying lunch will be arranged at 12:45 p.m. at Chutneys, 124 Drummond Street, London NW1 2PA (corner of North Gower Street). Tel: 020 7388 0604. Please note on the booking form if you wish to join the lunch, or advise by email when booking.

Booking: Please email Florence Cantle florence.lkcan@gmail.com. Please transfer £8/£12 per person to the Friends’ bank account at least a week before the event, if you can. Thank you. If not, mail the form at the end of the newsletter and bring cash on the day.