SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

State-making vs. Homemaking in Hong Kong, 1980s-1990s

Sarah Lee, SOAS

Date: 8 May 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 8 May 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429

Type of Event: Seminar


Although domestic work is not a novel phenomenon in Hong Kong, the introduction of transnational domestic service in the late 1970s has inexorably transformed the division of household labour. This paper examines the production and proliferation of handbooks aimed at Hong Kong Chinese employers of Filipino domestic workers (officially categorised by the Hong Kong government as “domestic helpers”). In particular, this paper demonstrates that these books were not simply designed to transmit practical advice, but as a pedagogical tool, they were also prescriptive, in that they promoted, affirmed, and justified the continuation of the system and the attitudes preserved therein. Finally, this paper argues that exclusionary borders constructed in the colonial period justified by discriminatory policies of the government are, in this example, reimagined in the post-colonial period in the “home” and advertised under the guise of employment handbooks.

Organiser: Dr. Andrea Janku

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