Final Year Project Forum

The Final Year Project (FYP) Forum is a platform for undergraduate students to present their final year research projects on a topic of their choice. In the project, students would demonstrate their ability in applying concepts, theories and skills they have learnt in their years of anthropology study. The FYP Forum is scheduled in April every year. Each student will prepare a five-minute presentation and deliver it in front of the Department’s faculty members and students.

2024 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize From Storefronts to Hearts: Human-Shop Cat Relationship and Their Impacts on Local Communities

This project aims to examine the expansion of meanings of shop cats in Hong Kong, focusing on the social, cultural, and historical factors that contribute to their roles within local communities. Additionally, I will highlight the agency of shop cats themselves, acknowledging their active role in shaping these relationships. Each chapter are named after the role that humans have granted to shop cats, exploring a specific aspect of the relationship between humans and shop cats.

Chapter one introduces shop cats as effective pest control agents in traditional shops. It discusses the initial preference for technological solutions over animals due to modernization and government policies. The chapter highlights the formation of a network among shop owners, showcasing collaboration and mutual support facilitated by shop cats.

Chapter two delves into the beloved child role of shop cats, exploring the mutual care routines between shop cats, owners, and neighbours. It examines the cultural and social trends that elevate these relationships beyond a working animal dynamic. The chapter emphasizes the agency of shop cats and their impact on the neighbourhood and how these relationships provide a sense of continuity and connection to the past.

Chapter three explores the idol role of shop cats, focusing on their idolization in the online social space. It investigates how their characteristics, such as aloofness and laziness, are being worshipped in Hong Kong. The chapter discusses the emotional connection and nostalgia associated with shop cats, as well as their potential to help small businesses in Hong Kong by creating a unique identity.

Chapter four addresses the vulnerability of shop cats and the ethical debates surrounding their presence. It examines the existing animal laws and the “ethicalization” of shop cats, where interventions are made to ensure their safety and well-being. The chapter explores concerns about exploitation, animal rights, and the sustainability of shop cats in a rapidly modernizing urban landscape.

Overall, this study explores how the meaning of shop cats has expanded over time. It emphasizes the agency of shop cats and their active role in shaping connections with humans in Hong Kong, shedding light on the multifaceted nature of the shop cat phenomenon.

WONG, Wing Fong
2nd Prize Body Enterprises: Male Body Hair Management Services in Hong Kong

Although body hair management is no news to the aesthetic market as some of our informants suggested, men (especially gay men) in Hong Kong increasingly engage in the discussion and practice of hair management services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Erotic internet celebrities and waxing studios are in a seemingly collaborative relationship, constructing the discussion through sharing experiences and photos of hairless bodies, and organizing promotional campaigns on platforms such as Twitter. Yet directed by the discourse of “indecent massage” (邪骨) in which sex work is involved, the relationship between body hair management services and sex work or broadly sexual interaction during services is imagined in a sense that it modified the expectation, and thus practices, of customers. How exactly do body waxing studios of such kind work? What does it say about our bodily imagination of masculinity and desirable men, and how we act them out? Why did the young therapists join the industry? What do they think about the discourse they developed? How do they see their business and their interaction with customers? This thesis follows threads of activities on and offline to discover the motivations behind the demand and supply of the hair body management market, particularly the effects of interactions on online platforms and pandemic-related socioeconomic contexts. I suggest that a neoliberal lens is crucial in understanding the mechanism of body hair management business that both studio owners and customers participate in aesthetic entrepreneurship. Men see themselves as an enterprise requiring management and have to purchase services in exchange for body capital in the intimate market, while studio owners actively construct the discourse praising hairless bodies sexually and medically through advertisement texts and make such bodily improvement satisfiable as consumption, emphasizing body management as individual effort. Lastly, it is found that both parties share certain similar thoughts on ideal customer-specialist interaction: professional and non-sexual as against the alleged “indecent” erotic massage.

3rd Prize Beyond Bookselling: Investigating Production and Consumption in Hong Kong’s Independent Bookstores

Anthropologists have been paying attention to independent bookstores since the 2010s. While many studies focus on bookselling in the English literary world, this research examines independent bookstores in Hong Kong. It contributes significance to looking at Hong Kong as a linguistic periphery, as most independent bookstores in this research offer books in traditional Chinese while Cantonese is the primary language of communication. Independent bookstores in today’s Hong Kong have raised attention regarding their survival in terms of financial struggles and the rapidly changing political environment. Taking away from these discussions, this thesis asks what is beyond the sales of books. It investigates independent bookstores not only through the distribution of books but more importantly, how social meanings and experiences are produced and consumed. To discover the experiences in these bookstores, I have interviewed booksellers and other actors involved such as publishers, authors and visitors, while conducting participant observation in independent bookstores across various areas of Hong Kong. Digital ethnography also contributes to this research as many independent bookstores have been expanding to the virtual realm. There are three major findings. First, maximizing profit is not regarded as a priority for independent booksellers. It is found that bookselling is constantly negotiated beyond the monetary exchange of books, as there are the production and consumption of knowledge, identity and ideologies. Moreover, many booksellers and shop assistants’ work is not alienated from themselves, instead, it is closely related to their personal lives and values. Also, booksellers themselves are often multi-skilled and keen on experimenting with other tasks in the book industry. Second, space and social experiences are produced and consumed creatively in many ways, from physical stores to digital platforms. Meanwhile, one key spatial and communal experience circulates what is considered “local”, even though there is an ambiguity between most actors of the bookstores in defining what “local” means. Lastly, independent bookstores operate in a form of socially connected retail. In the world of economics, it is often assumed that an increase in people doing business in the same industry means more competition. However, independent booksellers rarely address each other as competitors, instead mentorship and friendship are often formed between them. Moreover, a shared value on business, morality and ideology among them appears as a significant factor which maintains this network.

LAI, Hang Man
3rd Prize Influences of Education Systems on Youth Counterculture: Insights from Mainland China and Hong Kong University Dance Clubs

This research discusses the impacts of different education systems on shaping youth culture and students’ personal development, as well as the role that street dance culture plays in them, by viewing the experiences of students participating in dance clubs at Peking University and The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Looking at the historical process of mainland China and Hong Kong, the education systems have undergone continuous reforms, and their effects are reflected in the different performances of students in the two universities.

Street dance culture as a Western youth counterculture was introduced to Asia and attracted numerous young people to participate in the 1980s. When it entered Chinese campuses, its original meanings of “freedom”, “individuality” and “rebellion” were restricted or degenerated, while a new set of youth culture and identity was established.

It is commonly anticipated that engaging in extracurricular activities like street dance clubs often leads to a decline in student’s academic performance. However, what motivates students to sacrifice sleep or more and actively participate in these clubs despite being aware of the potential consequences? Is it possible that there is not always an inverse relationship between student’s academic achievements and their involvement in clubs?

Through conducting semi-structured interviews with informants and participant observation during street dance club activities, this study aims to uncover the effects of club involvement on student dancers in two distinct locations. By gaining insights into the attitudes and behaviors of students, the effects on student’s academic performance and autonomy, resulting from their engagement in dance clubs are explored. In doing so, it seeks to investigate how diverse educational systems, characterized by authoritarian and liberal approaches, influence the personal development and cultural orientation of adolescents in mainland China and Hong Kong. Additionally, this paper sheds light on emerging forms of Asian youth subcultures, as demonstrated by the comparatively limited resistance and expression observed among students in dance clubs when compared to Western countercultures.

Through this research, I hope to change society’s possible prejudices against student street dance and provide new perspectives and insights for studying youth culture or reforming education.

CHEUNG, Suet Ying

2023 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Paid in passion? A Search for Reasons for Us Retaining in a Hong Kong Maid Cafe

This paper is an autoethnography, a reflexive study of reason for “irrational” choices which my boss, my coworkers and I have made – staying at a job position of undesirable conditions and running a losing business in a local maid cafe, while being eligible for and deserving “better” offers. Informal interviews, participant observation, and reflection on personal experience were used in the inquiry. The low degree of alienation at work, the relatedness between coworkers and the liminality of the life stages of the workers may be some possible answers for our choices. It was hoped that the research not only provides a glimpse into the working condition of maid café in Hong Kong but also offers an alternative way of looking into the meaning of work in a capitalist society.

HO, Yu Chai Mercy
2nd Prize Till the Rainbow Bridge: Human-animal Relationship beneath Hospice Care for Stray Animals in Hong Kong

Stray animals are an outcasted group of animals being both abandoned physically on streets and invisibly omitted in social discussions. From life to death, stray animals live within cities and are meticulously near and linked with human society, and the remaining awareness and policies on stray animals focus on their lives, excluding the last stage of their life cycle; meanwhile, the death care industry is extending to animals, mostly for pets, in this human-animal intimate world. In Hong Kong, small groups of stray animal volunteers treasure not only the animals’ lives but also their deaths. Through unveiling the hospice care practice among stray animals, this research attempts to reveal human-animal relationships with the stray animal volunteers by evaluating why, how, and what their death care practices are.

MUI, Lok Ya
3rd Prize Beyond the Sparkle: An Anthropological Exploration of the Fandom Adoration of Ivy@COLLAR

Ivy is one of the members of a famous local girl band, COLLAR formed in 2022. While her attractive appearance is often cited as the biggest reason for her popularity, this project aims to explore deeper reasons for the fandom idolizing Ivy@COLLAR beyond the surface-level sparkle of her beauty.

CHAN, Pui Shan

2022 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Civil Conflicts in the Eyes of Police: Hong Kong in 2019 CHAN, Ho Yan Serene
2nd Prize The Sinicized Ethnical Practice under State Policy: Studying Ethnic Dress and Lacquerware of Yi in Virtual Museum at Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong NG, Lai Yee
3rd Prize Skin as Border — Hong Kong Female’s Physical Aversion to Male and Meanings of Body Touch HUI, Tsz Yuet

2021 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Ecomuseum as a Strategy: An Anthropological Study on Urban Redevelopment and Preservation in To Kwa Wan Pak Hiu Ching
2nd Prize Opium Processing, Usage and Trading in Hong Kong During 19th to 20th Century: Studying the Opium Containers Excavated from Archaeological Sites Chan Lok Yi
3rd Prize Hong Kong Sanitation Workers and Their Strategies under Uncertainty Wong Hoi Kei

2020 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Periphery of the Periphery: Liberal Chinese Students’ Struggle between Nationalism at Home and the Anti-Extradition Movement in Hong Kong Ma Yau Ka, Carol
2nd Prize In the Divides: Chinese migrant activisms in Hong Kong Deng Xiaoyi
3rd Prize A Cultural Biography of Museum Objects: An Ethnographic Study on the Collections of Hong Kong Maritime Museum exhibition East Meets West: Maritime Silk Routes in the 13th – 18th Centuries Szeto Huen Ting

2019 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize SPEAKING in the Language of Memes Wai Tin Yam
2nd Prize The Authenticity of Chinese-styled Pastries in Bakery: Case of Tai Tung Bakery, Hong Kong Lee Wing Yan
3rd Prize Bicycling in Hong Kong Lee Lok Yi

2018 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Socializing Experiences of Asylum Seekers in Hong Kong Wong Nga Yung
2nd Prize Globalised Queer: Interracial Intimacy in the Korean Gay Community Tsoi Kwok Kwan
3rd Prize The Local as Processes: Making Cheung Chau Island Wong Yam Ling

2017 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Negotiating Sexual Lives among University Students in Student Hostel: Space and Identity Mok Kar Yan
2nd Prize Hakkas Who Don’t Speak Hakka: A Study of the Decline of Hakka Language in Hong Kong Chan Wai Po
3rd Prize Gender Construction of Top Female Judo athletes in HonGender Construction of Top Female Judo athletes in Hong Kongg Kong Yiu Yee Ting

2016 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Searching for a roof: Young people’s dreams and struggle for housing Cheung Yin Nung Ingrid
2nd Prize How does the death of pets reveal people’s perspectives on life? Yiu Wan Sze Celia
3rd Prize Beyond monogamy?: Love and sex on the landscape of immorality Lee Sheung Man Eugene

2015 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Volunteer Work – Who Does It Really Help? Cheung Shuk Ching Salina
2nd Prize Rethinking “Helping Others”: Homelessness & Youth Activism Yuen Ka Sin Claudia
3rd Prize A comparative study of university museum,
the Nicholson Museum of the University of Sydney and
the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
Lam Ka Ki Kiki

2014 FYP Forum Highlights

1st Prize Rethinking Sanitation Workers in Hong Kong Leung Sen
2nd Prize Heroes of the Night: DJs and electronic dance music in Hong Kong  Young Mei Ling
3rd Prize Left-handers: The Hidden Minority Tong Dik Wai


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