What’s New


Webinar – In local exclusivity lies global inclusion : The relational ontology of asylum-seekers, refugees and the local community in a Hong Kong walled village

Speaker: Dr. Isabella Ng

Moderator: Dr. Alex Chan

Date: 3 December 2021 (Friday)

Time: 15:30 – 16:30pm

Zoom Link: https://eduhk.zoom.us/j/97229523801

Zoom Meeting ID: 972 2952 3801

This webinar is part of the event series Otherness and Belonging in Hong Kong.



Dr. Ng’s project is an 24 month ethnographic study in the ethnic cluster of rural Hong Kong. Through in-depth interviews with 80 asylum-seekers and refugees, local walled villagers who live with the groups in the villages, as well as interviews with NGOs, social workers and legislators who work with the groups, the project examines the relationship between the local community and the asylum-seekers and refugees in post-colonial Hong Kong. Drawing on relational ontology, Dr. Ng examines the interactions and interrelations between these groups amidst social, structural and historical changes.



Dr. Isabella Ng is the Assistant Professor and Associate Head (Teaching and Learning) in the Department of Asian and Policy Studies at the Education University of Hong Kong. She receives her PhD in Gender Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. She focuses her research on Gender and Development in Asia, Feminist Geography, Feminist Research methods, anthropology of migration; migrants and diaspora, rural villages in Hong Kong and China and media studies, by drawing mainly on her training in anthropological research methods.


Dr. Alex Chan is a lecturer in Soka University, teaching Sociology of Globalisation and transnational migration. He was previously teaching in the Education University of Hong Kong on Media, International Relations, and Sociology. A renowned journalist in Malaysia, he received his PhD in Sociology of Media in Doshisha University in Japan. He has been actively advocating for the asylum-seekers and refugees issues and is an executive committee member of The Hong Kong Society for Asylum seekers and Refugees.

Filming Screening – Djembe in the 13 Streets and Walled Village

Both these award-winning short films explore the relationship between the local Chinese and other ethnic groups living in Hong Kong. Walled Village tells the story of an university professor Isabella Ng and Tariq Mehmood, a Pakistani asylum-seeker who co-founded a society with other asylum-seekers and Hong Kong students to support the needs of the asylum-seekers and refugees in Hong Kong. Djembe in the 13 Streets (2019) explores the relationship between the growing African population in Hong Kong and the local Chinese.

These events are part of the event series Otherness and Belonging in Hong Kong.

Director – Brian Hung

Dr Brian Hung graduated from the School of Film and Television of The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and received a Master’s Degree in Studio Art: Art in Media from New York University. He is the recipient of Jack Goodman Scholarship from NYU. He also has an EdD from The Education University of Hong Kong. Dr Hung’s creative outputs are focused on documentaries, short films and stories. His works have been selected by various international film festivals and exhibitions around the world, including Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

Moderator – Indie Chung

Indie Chung is a multi-visual educator and a trainer. A trained psychologist from HKU and Oxford, he has been working in different businesses and writing columns ranging in subjects from Arts to empowered skills training.

Djembe in the 13 Streets

Winner of the Social Change Award at the Asian American Film Festival, 2020 in Philadelphia, USA

Date: 19 Nov 2021 (Fri)

Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Moderator: Indie Chung

Film details: https://tickets.paaff.org/2020/movies/djembe-in-the-13-streets/


Walled Village

Winner of the Gold Remi award in Documentary Shorts at the 51st Worldfest in Houston, USA and the Official selection, Documentaries of the World at the 42nd Montreal World Film Festival, Canada

Date: 26 Nov 2021 (Fri)

Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Moderator: Indie Chung

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap7eoJ0mj6U


Event Series – Otherness and Belonging in Hong Kong

We are delighted to announce a 4 part series of events titled Otherness and Belonging in Hong Kong. The series includes the screening of two award winning short films followed by a dialogue with the director, a seminar on refugees and asylum seekers in a Hong Kong walled village and a discussion on Dear Hong Kong, a recently released 200-page photo book celebrating Hong Kong’s diversity. All events will be online. Stay tuned for further details on each event!

[Film screening] Djembe in the 13 streets

Followed by dialogue with Director Brian Hung

Moderator: Indie Chung

Date: 19 Nov 2021 (Fri)

Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Zoom link: https://eduhk.zoom.us/j/96723024636 (Meeting ID: 967 2302 4636)


[Film screening] Walled Village

Film screening followed by dialogue with Director Brian Hung

Moderator: Indie Chung

Date: 26 Nov 2021 (Fri)

Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Zoom link: https://eduhk.zoom.us/j/93743891324  (Meeting ID: 937 4389 1324)


[Seminar] Villagers and Asylum-Seekers/Refugees in a Postcolonial Walled Village: A Relational Perspective

Speaker: Isabella Ng, EdUHK

Date: 3 Dec 2021 (Fri)

Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Zoom link: https://eduhk.zoom.us/j/97229523801 (Meeting ID: 972 2952 3801)


[Seminar] Dear Hong Kong: Celebrating Diversity in Asia’s World City

Speakers: Oskar Valles, Aggie Lam and guests

Date: 10 Dec 2021 (Fri)

Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Zoom link: https://eduhk.zoom.us/j/99541260267 (Meeting ID: 995 4126 0267)


Thanatic Ethics: The Circulation of Bodies in Migratory Spaces

International Conference:

Bodies on the Edge: Life and Death in Migration.


Venue: Maison Française of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Dates: April 28 to 30, 2022

Language: English

Deadline for submitting proposals: 15 December 2021

Notification of acceptance: 15 January 2022

  • This conference will be held in person and participants will be expected to travel to Oxford at their own cost.

Full description of the Thanatic Ethics Project: https://www.thanaticethics.com

Project Co-convenors:

Dr Bidisha Banerjee, Centre for Popular Culture in the Humanities, the Education U. of Hong Kong

Dr Thomas Lacroix, Sciences Po-CERI / Maison Française d’Oxford

Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak, EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France


Organisation Committee:

Dr. Justine Feyereisen, Ghent University/Maison Française d’Oxford

Dr. Marie Godin, COMPAS-RSC, U. of Oxford

Dr. Alessandro Corso, ODID, U. of Oxford

Prof. Judith Rainhorn, Maison Française d’Oxford


Constantly surveilled yet paradoxically unseen, the bodies of dead migrants follow the tracks of the living on migratory routes. On their perilous journey to foreign lands, migrants come close to death or encounter it. Once settled, some of them yearn to be buried with their ancestors in their homeland, a few prefer the soil where their children grew up. The Thanatic Ethics project explores the social implications and aesthetic representations of the circulation of bodies in migratory spaces. After a series of Webinars and two Workshops (October 2020 to September 2021), the Oxford Thanatic Ethics conference seeks to address the liminalities of life and death in migratory spaces.

While recurring images of mass arrivals have fostered representations of migrants as disposable subhumans, selective migration policies blur the limits between the living and the dead. In 2011, the left-to-die-boat (Heller, Pezzani, Studio 2012) drifting for 14 days under the constant scrutiny of coast guards and war boats, exemplifies the necropolitics of migration management (Mbembe 2019) that distinguishes between those who live and deserve to remain alive, and those who don’t. These deaths are no longer just deaths in migration but “deaths of migration” (Babels 2017, Kobelinsky 2017), i.e. deaths that are a product of violent migration policies. The becoming-dead of migrants, or the humanitarian spectacle following migrant deaths at sea (Tazzioli and Stierl 2021), is also a policy tool: it is used as a deterring argument in anti-emigration campaigns in sending areas or as a justification for so called ‘anti-smuggling policies’ and border control that cause systematic human rights violations. Treating migrants as vulnerable subjects to be protected, migration policies are increasingly imbued with the rhetoric of humanitarian reason (Fassin 2011). The protection of the migrant body has ironically become a tool for confinement, bordering.

Death is not the end as the presence of those who passed away continue to haunt the existence of the living. Their absence and the emptiness they have left, imbue the social ties of those who mourn them. Body repatriation and associated migratory rituals are a way of filling this void. But what if the body has never been found? What if it has been lost in the depth of seas or in the midst of deserts? “Unritual” (Loichot 2020) art as well as online and offline acts of mourning have flourished so that those lost would not fall into oblivion: multivarious art performance, art exhibitions and literary production, but also memorials and public events  set up by families of missing migrants, diasporic communities, as well as pro-migrant organisations, attempt to make the disappearance of migrants visible to the public.

Circulating bodies become part and parcel of their biosphere, enmeshed in an organic and inorganic continuum with other living organisms, a wider relational cosmology of life forms (Kodjo-Granvaux 2021), from the smallest viruses (COVID 19) to complex plants and animals, but also material objects and raw matter. This is not only the case for migrants’ bodies but also for migrating bodies, their commodified body parts circulating on the market for organ trafficking.

From the becoming-dead of the living on migration routes and in (necro-) policies, to the ongoing traces left by the dead among the living, this conference addresses the manifold liminalities between what is alive and what is not, in all its materiality and immateriality.

We welcome contributions from the Humanities, Social Sciences and related disciplines (multi and transdisciplinary perspectives will be favoured) on the following themes (though not exclusively):

  • Methodologies addressing the relation between life and death: life writing, digital humanities, migration death databases, etc.
  • Policy narratives and measures of migrant death in anti-emigration campaigns and migrant death counting;
  • The humanitarian reason and migrant vulnerability in migration management;
  • Necropolitical ecologies: the relation between migrants and their environment on migration routes;
  • International organ trafficking; the integrity of the human body, dead or alive;
  • Liminalities between organic and non-organic matter, human and non-human;
  • Contemporary rituality (body repatriation, burial committees), its economics, its administration and politics (insurance schemes, debts to be paid, death certificate to be issued etc.);
  • Contemporary unrituality: collective, militant and artistic projects meant to dignify the disappearance of those left with no trace;
  • Spectrality: ghosts, spectres and zombification in the postcolonial perspective on migration;
  • Living-dead identities: usurpation of the identities of the dead.
  • Migrant deaths in times of Covid-19: Migrants have been over-represented in Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths; at the same time, migrants have also been portrayed as threats (as ‘corona spreaders’) potentially causing the death of ‘others’. How are colonial legacies being reproduced with the bodies, lives and deaths of migrants within and outside the borders?

We invite contributors to send their proposals (a 250-­word abstract, title, author’s name, a 150-word bio, and contact information) to the conference email address: thanaticethics@gmail.com.

Each presentation should be 20 minutes (followed by discussion time). A selection of papers will be considered for publication.


Webinar – Gamification of Economy: The Aesthetic Labour and Emotional Labour in Making Taobao a Theme Park Spectacle

Date: 25 October 2021 (Monday)

Time: 15:30 – 17:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Ling Tang

Language: English


Gamification of Economy: The Aesthetic Labour and Emotional Labour in Making Taobao a Theme Park Spectacle



In contrast to the “rational” Amazon which demonstrates an intensification of McDonaldization of the economy in the digital economic realm (Ritzer, 2018), this talk discloses how Taobao crafts itself into an emotion-fuelled theme-park for online shopping. Taobao wishes to establish itself as a platform full of adventurous products and unexpected encounters. Based on my one-year ethnography with businesswomen in the Internet age, many of whom Taobao shop owners, I show how they need to do an extensive amount of aesthetic labour and emotional labour in order to make the shopping experience more fun and entertaining for customers. This echoes Byung-Chul Han (2017)’s notion of the gamification of the economy where production and consumption are made into games of instant rewards and punishment.


Ling is an artist academic who considers sociology as art and vice versa. Her research interests includes Internet studies, Gender studies, Chinese studies and innovative methods. Her academic writings are published in journals including Journal of Sociology and British Journal of Chinese Studies. Besides, she also produces music, fine art pieces and public academic cultural products.


Zoom Link: https://eduhk.zoom.us/j/98246400615?pwd=T3dIaVdtZkFZUDFZNlJnTjIwSERvUT09

Zoom Meeting ID: 982 4640 0615

Passcode: 462291

Thanatic Ethics: The Circulation of Bodies in Migratory Spaces

Shocking images of migrant bodies washed ashore, epitomized in Ai Wei Wei’s re-enactment of the Syrian infant Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body on a beach in Lesbos, have almost become a macabre shorthand for migrant deaths on foreign shores as more and more refugees undertake perilous sea crossings and other hazardous inland journeys, in search of a better life. We may wonder what happens to these bodies, what happens to these bones; are they repatriated back to the homeland? If not, are they in a cruel twist of fate, simply buried in mass graves on the foreign shores they tragically failed to reach while alive? How are the victims memorialized, if at all? This also raises related questions about the immigrant’s desire for a home burial. How is the longing for home manifested as a longing to die in the homeland? What about those who are criminalized and refused a burial? How is the right to die linked to citizenship and human rights in the context of migration and diaspora?

“Thanatic Ethics: The Circulation of Bodies in Migratory Spaces” seeks to explore these questions as they are articulated in literary and visual culture, and across disciplines.