Hong Kong has recently experienced an agitation against Chinese mainlander migrants
and visitors as "locusts" who supposedly overcrowd Hong Kong, denude it of goods and
services, and pollute it through boorish behavior. At this discourse's core are "localists."
Their demonstrations couple vilification of mainlanders with calls for the downfall of the Chinese Communist Party and their ideas have spread to part of the political elite and larger populace. In the post-colonial "Asia's World City" of Hong Kong, how do we understand a discourse that seems to hark back to the colonial-era discourse of Yellow Peril and Cold War diatribes against the Red Menace? While "nativism" is found many parts of the world, how is it constructed in Hong Kong, the foremost city of migration in the region? This presentation, based on documentary sources and interviews with localist leaders, puts Hong Kong nativism and its implications for China and Chinese in historical and comparative perspective.
Yan Hairong (Ph.D., University of Washington) is an anthropologist in the Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her research interests include rural-to-urban labor migration, agrarian transformation in China, and China-Africa links. She is the author of New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development and Women Workers in China (Duke University Press, 2008).
Barry Sautman (J.D., UCLA; LLM, NYU; Ph.D., Columbia) is a political scientist and lawyer in the Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, where he teaches courses on international law, China/US relations, ethnicity and nationalism. His research concentrates on ethnic politics in China (including Hong Kong) and China-Africa links.
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