HKHP Conference: Draft Programme and Registration

We are excited to announce that registration for our ‘“All Roads Lead to Hong Kong”: People, City, Empires’ conference is now open here. The conference will take place at the University of Hong Kong on 6-7 June. We welcome any colleagues, students, and members of the public who are interested in Hong Kong history to join us at the conference. Conference fees for non-speakers are £50 for both days, or £25 for one day (Please note that the option for ‘funded registration’ is only for HKU & University of Bristol students, as well as speakers who received HKHP travel bursaries). A draft programme (as of April 18) is available for your reference.

We are also delighted to announce that, with the HKU Department of History, we will host a public roundtable on the evening of June 5 entitled “All Roads Lead to Hong Kong: Paths to Becoming a Hong Kong Historian’. Four historians at different stages of their careers, Catherine Chan, Elizabeth Sinn, John Wong, and Ray Yep will share with us their experience of establishing an academic career with a research focus on Hong Kong. This event is free of charge and open to the public. More details and registration for the event will be available soon.

We look forward to welcoming you to Hong Kong in June.  In the meantime, do get in touch with us at if you have any questions.

CFP: HKHP Postgraduate Workshop, ‘Hong Kong and Beyond: Mapping the City’s Networks’, January 2019.

Call for Papers
Hong Kong History Project Post-Graduate Workshop
University of Bristol, January 2019

‘Hong Kong and Beyond: Mapping the City’s Networks’

The Hong Kong History Project at the University of Bristol is pleased to announce its third Postgraduate Workshop, which will take place on January 14-15, 2019, and which provides an opportunity to network and the share ideas. We welcome proposals for participation from postgraduate students and early career scholars working on Hong Kong history and related disciplines in the UK and overseas. This year we are looking to explore the transnational contexts of Hong Kong’s history. We seek proposals for 20 minute presentations on current research that can address this broad theme from any angle, and which relate to the wider political, social, cultural, and commercial networks that have helped shape Hong Kong’s history. Presentations will be organized into small panels, followed by question and answer sessions.

Candidates are invited to submit a 200-word statement briefly outlining their area of research and motivation for attending the workshop, along with their Curriculum Vitae. Please submit all applications to Jason Chu ( and Thomas Larkin ( by November 26, 2018. Accepted participants will be notified by December 3, 2018. Two nights’ accommodation in Bristol and some meals will be provided. Although priority will be given to history postgraduate students and recently completed PhDs, applications from other disciplines will be considered provided an appreciation of history is shown.

[HKHP 2019 Conference CFP] “All Roads Lead to Hong Kong”: People, City, Empires

“All Roads Lead to Hong Kong”: People, City, Empires
Hong Kong History Project Conference

6-7 June 2019, University of Hong Kong

Keynote speaker: Henry Yu, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of British Columbia

Ellen Thorbecke, Hong Kong (Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh, 1938).

Under the auspices of the ‘Hong Kong History Project’, the Departments of History at the University of Bristol and the University of Hong Kong are jointly organizing a two-day international conference at the University of Hong Kong on 6-7 June 2019. Hong Kong has been described as its own cultural-historical place at the edge of the Chinese and British empires, and as an ‘in-between place’. But can we also consider Hong Kong beyond the edge of these two empires and as more than an in-between place? Our aim is to encourage work that will consider the city’s history within a global framework that includes, but is not restricted to, networks of people, goods, communications, ideas and culture.

The conference aims to enrich discussions on the connections between Hong Kong and the world by drawing together international scholars and students to share their research on the history of this city and its people, and to encourage participants to consider the city’s history within a global framework. We welcome papers exploring a range of themes and approaches relating to Hong Kong and its wider networks, including its diaspora in a historical perspective. We also encourage proposals for panel sessions of three papers.

Specific conference themes to be explored may include:

  • Migration, communities, and diasporas
  • Environmental history
  • Culture, identity, and belonging
  • Colonialism and post-colonialism
  • Hong Kong’s international relations
  • Globalisation
  • Mobilities, transnational spaces, and port cities
  • Modernity and cosmopolitanism
  • Hong Kong’s economic transitions

Proposals are invited for individual papers of 20 minutes, or for panels including three such papers. To submit a proposal for consideration, send an abstract of 300 words (maximum) and 1-page cv by 5 January 2019 to Accepted participants will be notified by January 30.

We expect to be able to make a significant contribution to the expenses incurred for participants to attend the conference. Additionally, a  limited number of travel bursaries will be available to postgraduate students and ECRs. To be considered, please submit with your application a short statement outlining your research interests, purpose in attending the conference, an estimated budget of expenses, and availability of funding from your institution.

Conference Committee
Robert Bickers, University of Bristol
John Carroll, University of Hong Kong
Vivian Kong, University of Bristol
Nathan Kwan, University of Hong Kong & King’s College, London
Joyce Lau, University of Hong Kong
Chris Wemyss, University of Bristol

The conference is funded by the University of Bristol’s ‘Hong Kong History Project’ and the Faculty of Arts, University of Hong Kong.


HKHP Talk: ‘A System Apart? Hong Kong’s Political Economy from 1997’

‘A System Apart? Hong Kong’s Political Economy from 1997’ by Simon Cartledge
1 February 2018, 6-7 pm
Venue: LT2, Arts Complex, University of Bristol

Since 1997, Hong Kong’s economic growth rate has dropped sharply, inequality has increased, and corruption has found its way to the highest levels of government. These changes can in good part be attributed to the city’s ‘pro-business’ constitution, which has held back change and led to the rise of anti-establishment, localist opposition.

Drawing on the arguments of his book, A System Apart, traces the interplay of Hong Kong’s economy, society, politics and relations with the rest of China over the last twenty years – and where this leaves this leave the city today.


Simon Cartledge is the founder of Hong Kong-based publishing and research company Big Brains and a former Editor-in-Chief, Asia for the Economist Intelligence Unit. He has lived in Hong Kong for more than twenty-five years.

For further details, please see here.

[CFP] Postgraduate Workshop at the University of Bristol, January 2018

Call for Papers

Challenges in the study of Hong Kong History: Postgraduate Workshop at the University of Bristol, January 2018

The Hong Kong History Project at the University of Bristol is pleased to announce that the second Postgraduate Workshop will take place on January 11-12, 2018. The workshop welcomes postgraduate students and early career scholars working on Hong Kong history and related disciplines in the UK and overseas, and provides an opportunity to network and the share ideas. Participants will be invited to give a twenty-minute presentation on the theme of challenges facing the study of Hong Kong’s history. This can include issues relating to archives and sources, as well as broader challenges around differing historical approaches and interpretations. This will be followed by question and answer sessions.

Candidates are invited to submit a 200-word statement briefly outlining their area of research and motivation for attending the workshop, along with their Curriculum Vitae. Please submit all applications to Catherine Chan (, Gemma O’Neill ( and Katon Lee ( by November 24, 2017. Accepted participants will be notified by December 1, 2017. Two nights’ accommodation in Bristol and some meals will be provided. Although priority will be given to history postgraduate students and recently completed PhDs, applications from other disciplines will be considered provided an appreciation of history is shown.

Press Freedom Workshop

The History of Press Freedom in Hong Kong, Britain and the Empire/Commonwealth

 University of Bristol | 20 June 2016
Venue: Room G77A, Arts Complex (enter at 3/5 Woodland Road), University of Bristol 

9.30am-11am – Session 1:
Martin Hewitt, University of Huddersfield – Press Freedom and Regulation in C19th Britain

Simon Potter, UoB – Press Freedom and Regulation in the British Empire and Commonwealth

 11am-11.30am – Coffee

 11.30am-1pm – Session 2:
Su Lin Lewis, UoB – Connected Publics: Syndication Networks and Roving Editors in Penang, Hong Kong, and Colombo c.1920-1940

Cherian George, Hong Kong Baptist University – Legacies of Colonial-era Legislation on Freedom of Expression and Communal Tensions

 1pm-2pm – Lunch

 2pm-3.30pm – Session 3:
Michael Ng, University of Hong Kong – Rule of Law in Hong Kong History Demystified: Student Umbrella Movement of 1919

Vaudine England, Hong Kong History Project, UoB – From Punch to Panda-Monium: what Spikes Satire?

 3.30pm-4pm – Tea

 4pm-5pm – Roundtable

Mark Hampton (Lingnan University), Robert Bickers (UoB), Sabrina Fairchild (UoB)

There is no charge to attend, but please register by emailing Laura Lanceley – laura [dot] lanceley [at] bristol [dot] ac [dot] uk, mentioning any dietary or access requirements.

HKU 2016 Spring Symposium CFP

The University of Hong Kong’s History Department has released the following call for papers:

Spring Symposium

Open to History Research Postgraduate Students
Hosted by the Department of History, University of Hong Kong

Thursday 5 May 2016

Call for Papers

The Department of History at the University of Hong Kong is pleased to announce its eighth Spring Symposium. This symposium provides an opportunity for research postgraduates working on Asian history at universities in Hong Kong and abroad to share their ideas and learn from fellow scholars. Presentations will be arranged in panels of four papers of 15 to 20 minutes in length, followed by question and answer sessions. All those interested in presenting a paper are invited to submit a 200-word abstract and full Curriculum Vitae to Federico Pachetti ( or Reed Chervin ( by 31 January 2016. Successful applicants will be notified by mid-February.

The event is free of charge, and meals will be provided.

Hong Kong History Project – First Acts

By Vaudine England

The Hong Kong History Project, born in January 2015, has earmarked PhD funding and support to a young student from Hong Kong, Vivian Kong Wai-yan, who will take up her researches into the pre-war British community of Hong Kong under Professor Robert Bickers in the autumn.

The Project also hosted its first international workshop – a one-day gathering of a wide range of bright sparks, keen on sharing information about their studies into Hong Kong’s past. Titled “Hong Kong History, Past, Present, and Future: The View from Hong Kong”, it was a relatively unstructured programme, allowing for great collegiality and an enjoyable day. Each of the four speakers on a succession of panels were allowed only a few minutes to give a formal thought or summary of their work, before the discussion was thrown open to the floor. This format allowed for a free flow of ideas.

After introductory remarks by HKU Vice Chancellor Peter Mathieson, HKU’s Professor John Carroll, and Bristol University’s Professor Robert Bickers, the first panel, Why Hong Kong History?, was tackled by Lui Tai Lok of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, Ray Yep from City University Hong Kong, Bickers, who is director of the Hong Kong History Project, and HKU Visiting Assistant Professor Carol Tsang.

Lui spoke of the new Hong Kong Studies programme he is establishing which will fund post-doctoral fellowships and continue research into the MacLehose Years as well as allow for further work in the archives of the Society of Community Organisation (SOCO), a fascinating resource. Yep outlined the large disconnect between mainland and Hong Kong views of Hong Kong. Locally the central issue is autonomy, which could prompt more work on past relationships between the territory and its colonial metropole. Bickers admitted he had long regarded Hong Kong as a backwater, being more seduced by the cosmopolitan delights of historical Shanghai. However, he was now revising his opinions. Carol Tsang is teaching history at HKU and was able to show through graphs how the focus of her students had been profoundly influenced by the Umbrella Movement of last October, just as the Tiananmen movement of 1989 had long provided a topic of research.

The second panel’s topic was Hong Kong Communities, led by Su Lin Lewis of Bristol, Bert Becker from HKU, Cathy Ladds of Hong Kong Baptist University, and Vivian Kong of HKU (heading to Bristol).

Lewis suggested four areas for future studies in Hong Kong history: the trading diasporas of Chinese, Armenian, Jewish, Eurasians and Parsis; the development of regional intellectual networks, such as through the press, or through HKU students who returned to Malaya in the 1920s; civic associations, such as Freemasons, Rotary and others, and their links to modern civil society; and, popular entertainments. Perhaps a new task could be the hosting of a workshop on Hong Kong in Global and/or Asian History. Becker gave a fascinating insight into the German community of Hong Kong, one of the largest and most influential up until World War One. Ladds introduced her interest in the Anglo-Chinese Eurasians of the China Coast, rightly noting that the current research on Eurasians in Hong Kong is full of gaps. Kong introduced her studies on the 1940 evacuation of British women which revealed the extent to which many Britons described Hong Kong as their home.

The third panel considered the theme, ‘Global city, Imperial city’, with the help of John Wong from HKU, Mark Hampton from Lingnan University Hong Kong, Simon Potter from Bristol and Zardas Lee from HKU, soon to start her PhD at the University of North Carolina.

Wong pointed out that Hong Kong usually find its footing during times of geo-political strain and he highlighted the significance of the colony during the Cold War as another example of Hong Kong’s centrality in networks within South China, within the region, and internationally. Hampton described Hong Kong as a nation without a state and stressed the deep roots of its global role. Potter’s interests lie in international histories of broadcasting, a topic which has received little attention in the Hong Kong context despite the wealth of subjects that could be covered. Lee looked at the local consequences of the cold war and the censorship that resulted; one goal is to trace horizontal linkages, for example in the practice of censorships in Singapore compared to Hong Kong.

The fourth panel considered Hong Kong Public History, with Elizabeth Sinn, Chris Munn and Stephen Davies of HKU, and Kwong Chi Man of Baptist University.

Sinn introduced her enthusiasm for what she thinks should be a new focus: not simply on the land-based lives of Hong Kong people, but on those of the water-world. After all, she argued persuasively, Hong Kong’s existence has always been defined by its waters. Its role in local and regional fishing networks has been key, as has its usefulness to naval fleets. Whole communities across generations of distinct peoples have lived their lives and found their livelihoods on Hong Kong’s waters. Sinn highlighted the work of Wong Wai-ling on the fishing community of Aberdeen as an example of what future work could be done here. Her thoughts were soundly seconded by Davies, a maritime historian, who has long felt that this field demands far closer scrutiny and offers many important stories yet to be told. Chris Munn’s contribution was the suggestion that more must be published on Hong Kong, and more in Chinese, not just English. In this push to publish, small presses in Hong Kong could play a larger role, as can commissioned products such as his own history of the judiciary and other works funded by – and about – leading institutions, companies and clubs of Hong Kong. Kwong Chi-man, the military historian of Hong Kong, offered insights into the travails of advising museums and other public bodies on how to present Hong Kong’s history accurately. He called for more work in original sources, such a Japanese sources which he uses, and for a greater awareness among academics of the usefulness of social media, particularly in the growing public conflicts over versions of history.

The fifth and final panel, on new techniques, featured James Fellows of Lingnan, Wong Wai Ling of HKU, Michael Ng of HKU and Robert Bickers. Fellows is studying the economic discourses involved in the restriction of textile export quotas from Hong Kong. Wong’s work on the Aberdeen fishing community has involved an extensive and data-rich exercise in oral history. She has interviewed scores of fishermen and women over several years and delved deeply into their lives and the changing patterns of their business. This work has shown her that Hong Kong sits in the middle of the South China Sea – this is how the fishermen see it – not merely on the edge of China. Their focus for their livelihood is to the south, not the north and this point alone cries out for more exploration. Ng’s work involves the mapping of Hong Kong (following his similar work on Peking and Shanghai) by occupation (in his case, legal practitioners) as a way to use geography to glean larger insights into the shape of a city. This led into Bickers’ description of a project in Bristol he has been engaged with which is a public-facing mapping tool called Know Your Bristol. Members of the public can upload information about their homes or other significant locations, with digital images too, as a way to be part of public planning processes.

He concluded with the thought that the day’s mutual brain-pick had mapped out areas in which future ideas could develop. The goal, he said, was to facilitate connections and stimulate more Hong Kong histories. The next such workshop is scheduled for the autumn in Bristol.