Based on a broader ethnographic study with Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh residents of Hong Kong, this talk examines the role of minority religions in the 2019 Hong Kong protests. While the protests were dominated by the debates over the identities of Hongkongers versus mainland Chinese, they also produced discussions over the positions and experiences of Hong Kong's "ethnic minorities," many of whom are religious minorities. Often racialized and seen as outsiders by Han Hongkongers, ethnoreligious minorities were reluctant to take sides, worried for their livelihoods and fearing further marginalization. This sharply contrasts with the visibility of Christian communities in the protests: Christian leaders were publicly involved in prayer meetings and other forms of support for the protests, while the followers of minority religions either stayed away or organized prayer sessions in private, small settings. However, around October 2019, after a series of unprecedented events, minorities either found themselves drawn into or took an opportunity to participate in the protests to claim their Hongkonger identity. This was a potential for expanding the political discourse and creating a unified multicultural, multiracial identity for Hongkongers. However, such aspirations got crushed against the walls of cultural-religious representation, and minorities felt that they remained misunderstood and unacknowledged as fellow citizens.
Venera Khalikova is Assistant Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is a cultural anthropologist whose research explores the acts and articulation of identity, nationalism, and citizenship in two distinct contexts: alternative medicine and transnational migration. Khalikova holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, USA. Her work has been funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and appeared in Medical Anthropology, Journal of Asian Studies, and Food, Culture, and Society, among others.
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