The French Centre for Research on Contemporary China
Dr. Ting-Fai Yu received his PhD in gender studies and anthropology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He will be joining the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden, the Netherlands as a postdoctoral fellow in April 2018. He is currently a research assistant at CEFC.
Dr. Benny Chia-hung Lu is a postdoctoral fellow at Sociology, The University of Hong Kong. He received his PhD in Sociology from Goldsmiths College, University of London. His main research interest concerns the intersection between class and gender.
This paper stems from an ethnographic study that examines the influence of class on the lives of queer male subjects in Hong Kong. It combines analysis of in-depth interview accounts from middle- and working-class Hong Kong gay men between the ages of 20 to 55, with extensive participant observations conducted in a local non-government organization, social movement events, and other informal community networks. By investigating the differential access to social, economic and cultural resources that have shaped the informants’ struggles and aspirations of being gay in Hong Kong, this paper provides a perspective that highlights how class inequality is configured and reproduced in local queer culture.
The understanding of class is anchored in the specific set of economic transformations affecting postwar Hong Kong; the study argues that class differences are produced by a historical condition of social mobility that is linked to the formation of Hong Kong identity since the 1970s and considers class in the present context as a relatively recent and rapidly changing phenomenon. Even though class was not commonly spoken about by the informants, the findings demonstrate that it was nevertheless displaced onto other historically produced categories of social difference – including age, generation, race, and culture – which have facilitated them to comprehend marginalities and find legitimacy as queer subjects. In doing so, this paper argues that these displacements effectively highlight the place-based complexities of Hong Kong society that are embodied in queer lives.
The seminar was chaired by Eric Florence, director of CEFC and was held in English.