[Event #5] Narrativesbyus: Rethinking belonging
An open dialogue on: Rethinking Belonging
Narrativesbyus: A creative, continuously evolving space for local EMs in Hong Kong
07 May 2022 (Sat)
We invited the Hong Kong-based collective Narrativesbyus to co-host this session, an open discussion on the idea of belonging in Hong Kong in the context of wider global conversations on assimilation and the model minority myth.
The Belonging Research Network recognises that belonging is a two-way street, involving acceptance and recognition by already existing group members, and therefore subject to negotiation. But we nonetheless challenge established and essentialized ideas of belonging in terms of cultural and linguistic homogeneity, which we find inadequate and in need of scrutiny. These ideas are present everywhere in Hong Kong. In our introduction to the event led by Narrativesbyus we gave an example from the South China Morning Post. In May 2022 the paper reported a meeting that incoming Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee had with so-called ethnic minority representatives. “Lee,” said the paper, “described his exchange with four attendees who represented the local Pakistani, African, Nepali and Indian communities as ‘rewarding’ as he welcomed suggestions to help ethnic minorities integrate with society.”
We found we had two suggestions. First, the idea that in Hong Kong there are separate, bounded Pakistani, African, Nepali, and Indian communities does not stand up to scrutiny. The notion of community is much more complex than this, and so simplistic understandings of community need to be challenged.
Second, the idea that Ethnic Minorities need help integrating with society is problematic. It implies that there is a homogeneous society, an insider group, that Ethnic Minorities are somehow outside of, and with which they – as the outsiders or others – need to integrate. This is not the case. They are we: residents and citizens of Hong Kong, just as much a part of our place as anyone else.
We suggest that this ‘us’ and ‘them’ – this dominant ‘othering’ narrative – is also in need of challenge. And challenging the dominant narrative is what Narrativesbyus aims to do.
Narrativesbyus is a collective aiming to create a tapestry of different lived experiences to complicate the simplistic term “ethnic minority”. Discover them on Instagram: @narrativesbyus
Event Handouts, Materials & Recommended Readings
|1.||Discussion summary handout||
Narrativesbyus. (2022, 7 May). An Open Dialogue on: Rethinking Belonging.