Courses on Offer

HIST7008 Doing Hong Kong History: Methods, Debates, and Sources (9 credits)

This course examines a range of themes, problems, and issues in Hong Kong’s history. The goals of the course are to familiarize students with the ways scholars have approached Hong Kong history; assess how theories based on other historical experiences can be used to understand Hong Kong history; and introduce primary sources for studying Hong Kong history. Students will develop the skills necessary for writing about Hong Kong history at an advanced level; acquire the knowledge required to pursue independent research and draft an effective dissertation research proposal; and learn to use scholarly citations properly and in accordance with disciplinary standards and conventions.

HIST7018 Hong Kong in History (9 credits)

This course introduces students to key events, developments, and debates in Hong Kong history from the early 1800s to recent times. It explores Hong Kong’s history from several angles: Chinese history, British imperial history, world history, and as a place with its own identity. Students will engage with key primary and secondary readings to foster an understanding of political, social, economic, and cultural trends in Hong Kong history. The goals of the course are to familiarize students with the history of Hong Kong, introduce the ways historians have approached this history, and explore how Hong Kong’s past has shaped its present.

HIST7009 Health and Medicine in Hong Kong (9 credits)

In this course we explore health and medicine in Hong Kong from the First Opium War to the present. Adopting a chronological and cross-cutting thematic approach, we consider the evolution of the state and its institutions in relation to a number of health challenges: from malaria and plague in the nineteenth century to novel zoonotic infections, such as SARS and COVID-19, in the twenty-first century; from the health impacts of mass-migration to cancer and super-ageing today. To what extent did Western medicine serve as an instrument of colonial power? Conversely, how did the expansion of health services in the twentieth century contribute to Hong Kong’s social transformation? And finally, how have race, gender, and class influenced health priorities? In addressing these questions, we consider developments in Hong Kong in relation to broader interregional and global phenomena: from war and revolution to financial crisis and climate change.

HIST7010 Histories of Childhood in Colonial Hong Kong (9 credits)

What difference did colonial conditions make to being a ‘child,’ an ‘adolescent,’ or a young person in Hong Kong? This course considers these questions and explores youth as a social group, along with the different kinds of social, symbolic and political roles that adults ascribed to children and youth in colonial-era Hong Kong. Over the last two centuries modernizers redefined childhood and youth as a matter of public importance, and established notion of their ‘best interest’ and ideal social roles. Linking Hong Kong with the wider British Empire and other imperial and colonial contexts this course engages with the issue of how adult society understood – or misunderstood – those who were young, and how interpretations and representations of youth and childhood impacted upon those thus defined. Ultimately, the course argues for the need to think critically about what we think we know about childhood and youth, and how age intersected with race, class, gender and other categories in colonial contexts.

HIST7011 Laws of Hong Kong in Global History (9 credits)

This course studies how important global moments matter to the legal history of Hong Kong. It teaches students to see Hong Kong legal system and its “rule of law” not only as an institution to address local needs but as a response to global changes/trends in norms, values, and geopolitical relationship. It will demonstrate how Hong Kong laws responded to and were impacted by global colonialism, regional revolutionary activities, communism, Cold War, decolonization and the rise of China. Students do not need to have prior legal knowledge to attend this course.

HIST7012 Hong Kong: Uncertain(city) (9 credits)

Hong Kong is a city built on speculation. This course examines Hong Kong’s history of instability, anxiety, contingency, and panic through a study of its built environment. Through a series of readings, intensive in-course discussions, and student presentations, we will trace the various impacts of uncertainty as they have become inscribed within the city’s architecture and urban form over the last 180 years. Through an engagement with both primary and secondary sources, we will explore the historical range of influences that have shaped Hong Kong’s physical development, including the city’s identity as a port, its population density, its cosmopolitanism, transnational flows of goods, money, and people, the effects of both colonial and post-colonial governing systems, contagion and disease, as well as climate, among others. Students will be expected to actively engage, react to, and build upon these themes in in-class discussions and the completion of a research project of their own choosing. 

HIST7014 Gender and Sexuality in Hong Kong (9 credits)

Using gender as a category of historical analysis and drawing on a wide range of sources, this course provides an introduction to gender and sexuality in Hong Kong. Topics to be discussed include: marriage and divorce; family and parenthood; concubinage and female servitude; land and inheritance; patriarchy and colonial rule; gender hierarchies and sexual norms; education, sport, and work. Students will learn to apply concepts, theories, and methodologies in the history of gender and sexuality to the case of Hong Kong; analyse historical events that shaped gender roles and stereotypes; evaluate the impacts of sexual and reproductive health campaigns by government, philanthropical, and religious groups; and examine how individuals in Hong Kong conformed to and resisted the state’s intervention into their sexual and reproductive experience at different historical points. 

HIST7015 The History of Business in Hong Kong (9 credits)

This course will introduce students to the historical development of business in Hong Kong from 1841 to the present day and provide them with an understanding of how Hong Kong became the business hub it is today. The course consists of a series of seminars that will cover both thematic readings and more focused case studies of Western and Chinese businesses in Hong Kong. Through these seminars, students will learn about the early role of Hong Kong businesses in the China trade, the role both Chinese and Western multinational companies in Hong Kong played in connecting Hong Kong and mainland China to the global economy in the 19th and 20th centuries, the growth of Hong Kong into an industrial hub starting in the 1950s, and the contribution of Hong Kong entrepreneurs to China’s rapid economic growth since the 1970s. In addition, individual tutorials and independent research assignments will develop the students’ ability to conduct historical research with a focus on Hong Kong business history.

HIST7017 Education in Hong Kong History (9 credits)

Located at the edge of the Chinese and British empires, schools in colonial Hong Kong served as a breeding ground for bilingual, bicultural elites. Using a thematic approach, this course will explore the dynamics of various social, cultural and political actors that shaped the faces of education in (post-) colonial Hong Kong. We will look at how education was used as a tool to consolidate colonial rule, and how Chinese elites and philanthropists actively expanded their influence through the provision of education. Despite the institutionalization of mass education in 1978, Hong Kong society remains highly stratified today. By highlighting different colonial legacies in education, including meritocracy and the cultural hegemony of the English language, the course aims to shed light on how education inequalities have been exemplified in the face of global challenges.

HIST7019 Cinema and Hong Kong History (9 credits)

This course explores connections between Hong Kong history and Hong Kong cinema. It also considers how Hong Kong has been a regional and global cinematic crossroads from the beginning of the 20th century until today. Hong Kong films tell stories about wars (hot and cold), ancient and modern times, colonialism, communism, capitalism, Confucianism, cross-cultural encounters of various types, migration, crime and shadow economies, and social, economic, and political change. Throughout the semester we will analyze a number of films, paying attention to portrayals of Hong Kong people and society in different historical eras. While films generally flatten historical complexity and distort the past for a range of commercial, ideological, or political reasons, filmmakers nonetheless wield power and influence as they make use of different types of historical evidence, technologies, affects, and narrative styles. For all of their shortcomings, films can recuperate hidden histories, shape public memory, and inspire audiences to dig more deeply into the study of the past. Today, thanks to greater connectivity via social media and streaming platforms, and a re-kindled interest in Hong Kong among audiences across the world, Hong Kong history is, literally, everywhere on screens large and small.

HIST7020 Religion in Hong Kong History (9 credits)

Nearly half the schools and colleges in Hong Kong are Christian, yet only 10% of the population claims to be Christian, while 3 out of 5 Chief Executives have professed Catholic faith. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Hong Kong Taoist Association, 1 in 7 identify with Taoism, yet the abundance of altars dedicated to earth deities in shop fronts exceeds this ratio. Such anomalies invite us to ask: how and why did religion develop across Hong Kong history? What is its meaning and use in both past and present? This course examines the many entanglements of religion in Hong Kong history, from missionary schools to Buddhist philanthropy, from Taoist tourism to everyday popular religion. Through lectures, discussions, assignments, and a field trip, students will come away from this course with a broader understanding of ‘religion’ as well as its undeniable and enduring relationship with Hong Kong’s social, economic, cultural, and political landscape.

HIST7021 Special Topics in Hong Kong History (9 credits)

This course will focus on an area of Hong Kong history, as organized by the course instructor. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to engage critically with primary and secondary sources, to develop their research and analytical skills, and to think creatively about how to apply historical knowledge to contemporary issues. Students will be encouraged to engage with the history and historiography of a particular sub-field of Hong Kong history.

HIST7999 Capstone Experience: MA Dissertation in Hong Kong History (12 credits)

Students in this course will produce a written dissertation (no more than 10,000 words) based on research on a selected topic in Hong Kong history. They will apply advanced methods of scholarly research to this topic; demonstrate knowledge of historical theory and methodology; show original thinking in presenting a scholarly argument about their topic; and master professional practices and standards of historical writing, use of sources, and presentation.