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Cultural Identity as a Production in Dialectic Process: A Study of Hongkongers’ Account

Cultural Identity as a Production in Dialectic Process: A Study of Hongkongers’ Account

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Cultural Identity as a Production in Dialectic Process: A Study of Hongkongers’ Account

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  1. Cultural identity Identity -- one of the few fundamental human needs (Max-Neef et al., 1989) Socially constructed (vs. natural or given) Choice of an individual or group for their own benefit (Sen, 1999, 2001) “a ‘production’ ... never complete, always in process, and always constituted within ... representation” (Hall, 1990, p. 222) Cultural Identity as a Production in Dialectic Process: A Study of Hongkongers’ Account

  2. Objectives: to identify dialectics in the production of cultural identity to reveal ways individuals deal with dialecticsin and through communication Hongkongers’ Cultural Identity primary Hong Konger, secondary Chinese (e.g., Hong, Chiu, Yeung, & Tong, 1999; Lam, Lau, Chiu, Hong, & Peng, 1999; Ma & Fung, 2007)

  3. ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION • I. What am I - Identity Labels • II. What is in a Name – Identity Markers • III. Language Attitude – 1st and 2nd • IV. A Language and Its Speaker • V. Communication with Mainland Chinese and Foreigners

  4. I. What am I - Identity Labels • “Hongkonger,” the main label based on • a) the locale (physical association) • b) what they learned who they were early on • c) blood, or biological connection

  5. Dialectical tension • personal-social: • personal attachment to Hongkonger vs. national designation of them as Chinese • assimilation-differentiation: • part of China, culturally part Chinese part British • similarity-difference: • in biology and cultural heritage; in concurrent culture; influence of the British rule

  6. II. What is in a Name – Identity Markers • Name in English and Chinese -- cultural identity marked w/ language • Identity takes shape on the basis of a history of sharing: the Chinese name given much earlier in life and integrated into the self more closely

  7. Dialectics manifest instrumentality-affection: the situation, not just by emotional attachment personal-social: individual preference vs. convention in the system Balanced with pragmatic detachment of name; cultural identity unnecessary to present at all times The personal formed and shaped by the social of an earlier time, growing into one's sense of self and identity & turning into the personal

  8. III. Language Attitude – 1st and 2nd Chinese taken for granted in day-to-day use (Social expectation to acknowledge and display one’s cultural identity with the native tongue) English important for extrinsic reasons (pragmatic choice) oral and written form differentiated to mark cultural identity

  9. Dialetical pull instrumentality-affection: Chinese toward the affection end & English the instrumental end; Cantonese affectionate & Putonghua instrumental personal-social: preferred vs called for in languag use

  10. IV. A Language and Its Speaker Cantonese people, positive w/ some negative (Mainland) Chinese, negative perceptions w/ expressed understanding positive on Chinese language Identification with Chinese the language contrast to lack of it with the people perceptions of foreigner neutral to positive (developed, language international, higher status)

  11. - perceptions of English -- “distanced, powerful and superior” - attachment to Cantonese language and Hong Kong/Chinese culture on display (w/ personal connections and feelings) Dialectical juxtaposition instrumentality-affection juxtaposed with that of ideal-reality, similarity-difference and equality-inequality

  12. Society development, social wealth and technical advancement ideal to aspire to, not quite Hong Kong & definitely not mainland China The ideal desirable/useful, but not in the heart the equality-inequality Hong Kongers’ achievements as a source of pride contrast to the less than flattering perceptions of mainland relatives the British/Westerners had the comparative advantage, but not the emotional one

  13. Doing justice to “other” Chinese & Hongkongers (their circumstances less than ideal) V. Communication with Mainland Chinese and Foreigners Experience with Mainland Chinese --discrepancy of expectations & lack of mutual understanding (perceivd difference) A common sentiment of sadness for lack of common language

  14. heightened awareness of Hongkonger identity particularly when “Hongkong-ness” was unrecognized Perceived difference--> heightened sense of cultural identity communicating with the foreigners - shocks of a different nature (due to mistaken identification) underscored the Chinese part of cultural identity

  15. Dialectic balance the social-personal: Personal experience confronted with the social norms that classify people based on cultural heritage; expectations of similarity of Chinese vs. first hand experience of the difference Similarity-difference: differences as boundaries countered with acknowledgment of similarities

  16. The claim of difference contradicts inadvertent surprises given off in actual experience of some differences, testifying expectations of similarity with fellow Chinese • The difference felt balanced by the sense of identification when misidentified as members of another culture

  17. To conclude • Cultural identity fluid, emergent and negotiated in response to the circumstances, ever positioning at a point between a host of dialectics • Perceptions and attitude separate for a language and its speakers • --THE END-- • THANK YOU!