About Us
Siumi Maria TAM
Siumi Maria TAM

Adjunct Associate Professor

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Educational qualification PhD in Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Manoa
MA in Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Manoa
BA (summa cum laude) in Anthropology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Prof. Siumi Maria Tam joined the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1989. Her research interests include cultural identity in social transformation, family and migration, and gender and ethnic relations. She has completed a pioneering study on mistressing across the Hong Kong-China border, and believes that the mistress-keeping behavior of Hong Kong men has to be understood in the specific cultural context of Hong Kong’s colonial history and the identity politics with mainland China. Her most recent research is on the Nepalese community in Hong Kong. She looks at the interface between transnational migration, ethnicity, and gender, by studying the experience of three generations of Nepalese women. Another aspect of her research is on the change and continuity of tradition and selfhood among the Gurungs. She hopes that the study could be expanded to the understanding of other South Asian communities, and could contribute to eradicating social marginalization and ethnic discrimination in Hong Kong.

Research interests

Cultural identity and social transformation, family and marriage, cross-border mobility and social marginalization, gender and ethnic relations

Geographical areas of research

Hong Kong SAR, Mainland China, Nepal, India

Other positions held

Internal positions held

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Science

Director, Multiculturalism in Action Project

Associate Director, Centre for Urban History, Culture, and Media (under Institute of Future Cities)

Former Director, Gender Studies Programme, Faculty of Social Science

Former Co-Director, Gender Research Centre, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Former Associate Head, New Asia College

Member, Assembly of Fellows, New Asia College

Member, Executive Committee, Gender Research Centre, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies

Fellow, Institute of Future Cities

Editorial board memberships

Member, Editorial Board, Asian Anthropology

Member, Editorial Board, Asian Women

Selected projects

2018                  Project Leader. Intercultural Education in the Neighborhood: Sustainable community innovation and women’s empowerment from the ground up (SIE Fund)

2017                   Project Leader. Interculturalism and Motherhood: Agents of Change in Multicultural Hong Kong (ORKTS ICON grants)

2015-2016        Project Leader. Analysis of Ethnic Minority Ambassador Scheme Survey of Ethnic Minority Living Condition in Hong Kong. (Commissioned by New Home Association)

2014-2016        Collaborator. Feasibility Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status. (Commissioned by Equal Opportunities Commission)

2015-17             Project Leader. Fun with Interculturalism. (A community outreach-public education program including “South Asian Communities in Hong Kong” Exhibition, performance, sports and games. (Equal Opportunities Commission Community Participation Fund)

2013-2017        Project Leader. Multiculturalism in Action Project. (A series of research-in-action projects on South Asian cultures as part of Hong Kong’s local heritage, funded by ORKTS INSEED grants. Selected as one of four highlighted projects by ORKTS in 2016, and one of four recipients of Arts Faculty Impact Write-up Scheme awards.)
The series includes:

2016 Multiculturalism in Action: Promoting South Asia Culture as Local Heritage (Bangladesh and Sri Lankan cultures)
2015 Multiculturalism in Action: Promoting Pakistani Culture as Local Heritage
2014 Multiculturalism in Action: Promoting Nepalese Culture as Local Heritage
2013  Multiculturalism in Action: Promoting Indian Culture as Local Heritage

2005-2007        Engendering Ethnic Existence: An ethnographic study of Nepalese women in Hong Kong.

2004-2005        Fatherhood in Hong Kong: An Anthropological study of men’s views and behavior.

2001-2004        The Social Construction of Family and Gender: An investigation of polygyny across the Hong Kong-China border.

1999-2002        Coming ‘Home’?: Cultural Identity of Former Emigrants Returning to Post-colonial Hong Kong.

1998-1999        Globalizing Local Identity: Hong Kong Immigrant Families in Australia.

1997-1999        Co-investigator. Tradition, Change and Identity: A Study on the Minnan People in China and Southeast Asia.

1995-1997        Co-investigator. Cooking up Hong Kong Identity: A Study of Food Culture, Changing Tastes and Identity in Public Discourse.

1994-1998        Gender and the Professions in Hong Kong: The Politics of Work and the Social Construction of Gender.

Selected Publications



(Tam, Siu Mi Maria, and Connie Wing Tung Lee, eds.) Intercultural Hong Kong Classroom: Cultural Arts and Crafts. Hong Kong: Department of Anthropology, CUHK.


(Tam, Siumi Maria, Janice Ying Chui Lau, and Connie Wing Tung Lee, eds.) ICONIC Mums Kitchen: Tastes of Intercultural Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Department of Anthropology, CUHK.


(Tam, Siumi Maria and Tang Wai-Man, eds.) What are We Celebrating? Multicultural Festivals in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Wheatear.

Being Home: Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan Hongkongers. Multiculturalism in Action Series. Hong Kong: CUHK.


Pakistani Footprints in Hong Kong. Multiculturalism in Action Series. Hong Kong: CUHK.


The Nepalis in Hong Kong: Social Marginalization, Discrimination, and Empowerment. Multiculturalism in Action Series. Hong Kong: CUHK.


Indian Culture Workshop Information Kit. Multiculturalism in Action Series. Hong Kong: CUHK.

(Tam, Siumi Maria, Wai-Ching Angela Wong, and Danning Wang, eds.) Gender and Family in East Asia. London and New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis.


(Siumi Maria Tam and Yip Hon Ming, editors). Tung Chung before and after the New Airport: An ethnographic and historical study of a community in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Antiquities and Monuments Office, HKSAR. [abstract]


A Bibliography of Gender Studies in Hong Kong 1998-2003. (compiled by Siumi Maria Tam and Trisha Leahy). Hong Kong: Gender Research Centre, CUHK. [abstract]


編《性別觀察》[Observing Gender]. 香港: 麥穗. [abstract]


Culture and Society of Hong Kong: A Bibliography. (Sidney Cheung and Siumi Maria Tam). Hong Kong: Department of Anthropology, CUHK.


Hong Kong: the Anthropology of a Chinese Metropolis. Grant Evans and Siumi Maria Tam, eds. London: Curzon Press, and Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. [abstract]

Book chapters and journal articles


(Tam, Siumi Maria, Wai-Man Tang, and Alan Tse) Who Needs Intercultural Education? Making Cultural Diversity Work for Hong Kong. In The Asia Pacific Journal of Contemporary Education and Communication Technology 5(2):47-57.


Transnational Duties: Marriage and Family Practice among Indian Migrants in Hong Kong. In Gender and Family in East Asia. Siumi Maria Tam, Wai-Ching Angela Wong, and Danning Wang, eds. London and New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis.


Being Minority and Being Female: Gender and Social Capital among the Nepalese in Postcolonial Hong Kong. In East Asian Gender in Transition. Cho Joo-hyun, ed. Daegu: Keimyung University Press.


(Tam, Siumi Maria and Tong Yuying) Migrant Women and Ethnic Minority Women. In Women and Girls in Hong Kong: Current Situations and Future Challenges, Susanne Y.P. Choi and Fanny M. Cheung, eds. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies.


Dealing with Double Marginalization: Three Generations of Nepalese Women in Hong Kong. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 16(2): 32-59.


(Fung, Colman CS, William CW Wong, and Siumi Maria Tam) Familial and Extramarital Relations among Truck Drivers Crossing the Hongkong-China Border. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 35:1-6.

Shenzhen. In Encyclopedia of Modern China. David Pong, ed. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons/Gale, Cengage Learning.


Convenient Involvement Foods and Production of the Family Meal in South China. In Food and Foodways in Asia: Resource, Tradition and Cooking. Sidney Cheung and Tan Chee Beng, eds. London and New York: Routledge.


Engendering Minnan Mobility: Women sojourners in a patriarchal world. In Southern Fujian: Reproduction of Traditions in Post-Mao China. Tan Chee Beng, ed. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press. [abstract]


We-women and They-women: Imagining mistresses across the Hong Kong-China border. In Rethinking and Recasting Citizenship: Social Exclusion and Marginality in Chinese Societies. May Tam, Ku Hok-bun, and Travis Kong, eds. Hong Kong: Centre for Social Policy Studies, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  [abstract]


Country Institutional Report: Hong Kong SAR. In Women’s/Gender Studies in Asia-Pacific. Philip Bergstrom, ed. Pp.244-266. Bangkok: UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education.


Gender Differences in the Career Development of Professionals in Hong Kong. (Mandy Hoi, Fanny Cheung and Siumi Maria Tam). Hong Kong: Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies Occasional Paper No.152.


女性的想像與現實:中港跨境一夫多妻關係.《廣西民族學院學報》26 (6):18-25.. [Imaginations and Realities of Femininity: Polygyny across the Hongkong-China border. Journal of Guangxi University for Nationalities 26(6):18-25]


編《分隔家庭對性別關係的衝擊》. [Impact of the Split Household on Gender Relations] Hong Kong: Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK, occasional paper no. 151.


傳統的力量與改變的力量──香港的性別研究教學經驗. [Forces of Tradition, Forces of Change: Experiences in teaching gender studies in Hong Kong] 《婦女學教學本土化──亞洲經驗》. 王金玲主編. 北京:當代中國出版社.


Empowering Mobility: ‘Astronaut’ Women in Australia. In Gender and Change in Hong Kong: Globalization, Post-Colonialism and Chinese Patriarchy. Eliza Wing Yee Lee, ed. Pp.177-199. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. [abstract]


Eating Metropolitaneity: Hong Kong Identity in yumcha. In Hong Kong: Legacies and Prospects of Development. Benjamin K.P. Leung, ed. In the series The International Library of Social Change in Asia Pacific – Hong Kong. Pp.459-468. Ashgate. (reprint from The Australian Journal of Anthropology 8(3): 291-306.) [abstract]


「功成身退」: 香港女性「航天員」的責任的與自主. 《中國文化與女性》。魏國英,王春梅主編。北京:北京大學中外婦女問題研究中心,香港中文大學性別研究中心。[Goal Achieved, Time to Retreat: Duty and Autonomy among Hong Kong’s ‘Astronaut’ Women. In Chinese Culture and Women. Wei Guoying and Wang Chunmei, eds. Beijing: Women’s Research Centre, Peking University, and Gender Research Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong.]


Heunggongyan Forever: Immigrant life and Hong Kong style yumcha in Australia. In The Globalization of Chinese Food. David Wu and Sidney Cheung, eds. Pp.131-151. Surrey: Curzon Press.


Lost, and Found?: Reconstructing Hong Kong Identity in the Idiosyncrasy and Syncretism of yumcha. In Changing Chinese Foodways in Asia. David Wu and Tan Chee Beng, eds. Pp.49-69. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.


飲茶與香港身分認同 [Yumcha and Hong Kong identity. In Reading Hong Kong Popular Cultures 1970-2000. Revised edition. Ng Chun Hung and Cheung Chi Wai, eds. Pp. 400-405. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.]


Modernization from a Grassroots Perspective: Women Workers in Shekou Industrial Zone. In China’s Regions, Polity and Economy: A Study of Spatial Transformation in the Post-Reform Era. Si-ming Li and Wing-shing Tang, eds. Pp.371-390. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.


Practicing Gender and Practicing Medicine: ‘Tradition’ and ‘Modernity’ in Post-colonial Hong Kong. Intersections: Gender History and Culture in the Asian Context Issue 3 (January 2000).http://www.sshe.murdoch.edu.au/intersections/issue3/siumi.html


個人與婦女:人類學對中國現代化研究的兩個切入點 [The Individual and the Female: Two Starting Points in the Anthropological Study of Chinese Modernization]. In The Development of Sociology and Anthropology in China. C. Chiao, ed. Pp. 439-445. New Asia College Academic Monographs, CUHK.


Teaching as “Culturalization”: Reflections on Hongkong-specific Anthropological Pedagogy. In On the South China Track: Perspectives on Anthropological Research and Teaching. S. Cheung, ed. Pp.199-210. Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK.

Documentaries, media programs, and exhibitions


(Tam Siumi Maria, curator and presenter) That’s Intercultural! [A 13-episode public broadcast program in Cantonese which showcases different ethnic communities and their cultures in Hong Kong.] (Funded by RTHK Community Involvement Broadcast Scheme).


(Tam, Siumi Maria, curator) #Happy Together: An Intercultural Arts/crafts Online Exhibition


(Tam, Siumi Maria, editor and producer) Intercultural Hong Kong Series: Intercultural Mums Classroom. Hong Kong: CUHK. [A documentary on the ICONIC Mums Program, showing the transformation of 30 women of different ethnic backgrounds, and how individuals are agents and partners of change irrespective of ethnicity. In Cantonese with Chinese and English subtitles]


(Tam, Siumi Maria, editor and producer) Intercultural Hong Kong Series: Feeling South Asian. Hong Kong: CUHK. [A documentary on Hong Kong’s South Asian Communities, their cultural practices and challenges they faced. In Cantonese with Chinese and English subtitles]

Biographical note

I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and went to school here until my first degree and  I enjoy yumchaegg tarts, and milk tea Hong Kong style, so I consider myself a “local”. I had a chance to take part in the Semester at Sea Program in the early 1980s, which was held on board the SS Universe as it sailed around the world. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences that young people could have, when I learned about how politics and religion shape Indonesians’ daily life, about the disappearance of a culture in Egypt, and how poverty and pride coexist in India. It was the catalyst for my taking up anthropology as a major in college.

My year on exchange at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania made me realize that snow is not romantic at all (most Hong Kong people tend to romanticize snow) as I hated to feel cold, but the warmth of my American host families made up for everything. The other degrees I got were from the University of Hawaii at Manoa—which I guess was a sub-conscious effort to get away from the cold of the American Midwest.

I joined the Department of Anthropology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in 1989, after finishing PhD thesis fieldwork in Shekou, an industrial zone in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. Ever since I have been teaching and doing research on Hong Kong and China related topics, and I feel there are still many issues that deserve studying but that I haven’t time for.

Off work, my greatest interest is observing all sorts of cultural phenomena, and guessing what people really mean when they say or do something. This is anthropology in everyday practice—or “occupational disease”, depending on whether you like it! I also enjoy immensely the music of qin, an ancient Chinese instrument which is still being played by a small group of musicians. While it is not a popular instrument that people take up as a hobby, it is an important cultural symbol in the Han intellectual tradition. It also has a most calming effect for anyone who needs to wind down after a hard day’s work!

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