Toward an Ethnic Cultural Citizenship: A Cultural Indicator and Mapping Study of Popular Arts Participation among South and South East Asian Youth in Hong Kong

  • ERNI, John N. (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


In Hong Kong (HK), at the time of growing appreciation of the needs of South and Southeast Asian ethnic minorities (EM), the vital question of recognizing EM as equal, autonomous, and valued members of society – underwritten by a rights-based recognition of cultural citizenship – has yet to appear in public discourse. Major socioeconomic and cultural indicators of development in HK do not consist of any data on EM at all. Yet, EM youth are known to be active in popular arts, such as music, street dance, cheerleading, visual culture, etc. This study attempts to explore the “right to culture” for minorities and its implications on lived, everyday citizenship through an in-depth firsthand account of EM youth’s cultural participation in popular arts. Taking the cue of the “cultural turn” in citizenship theory developed over the past two decades, the research team asks: in light of the present and future need of attaining cultural recognition for EM, how can a set of meaningful cultural indicators be developed in HK for the first time, to map and evaluate EM youth’s (aged 15-24) cultural participation in popular arts; how do EM youth narrate their active, passive, interpretive, creative, and critical forms of cultural participation; and how can critical insights into EM’s cultural participation help to forge a public discourse about minority cultural citizenship rights, especially through cultural policy planning? Using multiple qualitative research methods, we shall (a) survey the local popular arts infrastructures (hard and soft) and practices for and by EM youth over the past ten years; (b) produce a data set of qualitative, stakeholder-participation cultural indicators appropriate to the historical reality of EM youth social formation in HK, for mapping and evaluating participation in popular arts through a “right to culture” framework stemming from international norms of cultural rights; and (c) use the cultural indicators to perform a “critical cultural mapping” toward policy planning. Besides a literature review and site visits, the method will chiefly involve conducting focus-group interviews of about 60 select EM youths to explore their relations with popular arts as participants, consumers, and critical observers (with focus on music, street dance, cheerleading, and visual culture). The research results will provide important insights for building an “ethnic cultural citizenship” in HK for the first time, thus bearing implications for resource allocation in arts and culture development under the government’s leadership to creatively enhance the city’s multicultural life and harmony
Effective start/end date1/01/1730/06/19


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