Skip to content
  • Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2023

Informality in Hong Kong

We are pleased to announce that the Society for Hong Kong Studies Annual Conference 2023 on the theme “Informality in Hong Kong” will be held 16-17 June 2023 in Hong Kong and will be a hybrid event, with both in-person and online participation options available.

Informality in Hong Kong

This year’s theme is “Informality in Hong Kong” which we hope will stimulate collective and multi-disciplinary reflections on Hong Kong Studies as a process in the making during a time of uncertainty. The theme is highly relevant to Hong Kong’s current social and economic landscape, and we believe that it will generate insightful discussions and bring together academics and professionals from various fields related to Hong Kong studies.

Keynote Speech: Four Decades of Informality Research in Hong Kong

We are also delighted to have Alan Smart, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at University of Calgary to be our keynote speaker this year. His keynote speech is titled “Four Decades of Informality Research in Hong Kong” and the abstract is as follows:

When I started my doctoral research on squatter areas in 1982, there was a rich body of Hong Kong research on what we now call informality.  Within a few years, this was eclipsed due to focus on negotiations on HK’s future, constitutional arrangements, emigration and integration with China.  The last of these drew my attention to the role of informal social relations in mediating Hong Kong investment in Guangdong.  In the last decade, there has been a resurgence of studies of informal practices by Hong Kong scholars, driven in part by international trends and local nostalgic interest.  Building on my own research, I consider shifting ideas about informality which reject dichotomies and recognize its prevalent not only among marginal populations but also among the rich and powerful as well as within government.  Combining ethnographic research with archival research on confidential government documents from the 1980s that have only become available in the last decade reveals complex influences on the governance of informal practices and unexpected consequences of the responses by those targeted by government policies of formalization.  I illustrate these processes with ideas from my forthcoming book with Charles Chi Keung Fung, which argues that the management of squatter resettlement had a massive impact on the development of Hong Kong’s public housing system and more generally on the landscape and social organization of late colonial and contemporary Hong Kong.

For full programme handbook, please see here.

Presented online & in-person at 2/F., Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU.

Keynote: Prof. Alan Smart
Date & Time
16-17 June 2023
Hybrid - online & at HKU