The Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HKIHSS) promotes quality, innovative, interdisciplinary research in the humanities and social sciences. Collaborating with local and global partners and institutions, the Institute aims at generating a critical community of scholars concerned with China’s modernity in the inter-regional and global contexts, viewed from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Its research clusters are driven by teams composed of local and globally situated scholars with graduate students from the Institute’s growing graduate program and those at its partners’ institutions. Its research deliverables are varied — multi-lingual publications, advanced training workshops and conferences, and public events drawing in broader community participation. The Institute’s main mission is to promote quality academic research but is also committed to serving as platform to engage business and policy leaders.

Theme: Inter-Asia Connections

The Institute’s focus on Inter-Asia Connections has a particular theoretical goal: to move beyond the spatial boundedness of area-studies research without compromising nuanced, place-based knowledge. It de-centers debates on the making of the modern world by reworking established approaches based on East/West comparisons, or the impact/response dichotomy. The approach of its research teams is inter/intra-sectional and process-oriented, focusing on the significance of multi-scalar assemblages of power and political economy as well as knowledge, affect and moral discourses. These assemblages are seen as domains in which individual and collective existence is problematized and subject to technological, political, and ethical interventions.

The Institute’s research program combines historical and contemporary perspectives and recognizes that our planet is interconnected and increasingly marked by uncertainties. The 21st century is informed by experiences of insecurity and inequality: irretrievable loss of species and ecosystems, financial crises, food shortages, shifting demographic situations and unforeseeable public health challenges and other political consequences of the post-industrial and late socialist projects. Recognizing the new intellectual and ethical challenges, the Institute seeks to encourage research on China and Asia that both speaks to and reflects the spirit of contemporary contingencies and frictions.

As one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan post-colonial cities in the world, and an economic and cultural hub in Asia with strong Chinese cultural traditions, Hong Kong is the ideal setting for this research agenda. The long history and academic standing of the University of Hong Kong have made it a resourceful facilitator for research and teaching that bridge science and medicine, the humanities, law, business and social sciences. It is a perfect host for the Institute’s innovative, multidisciplinary enterprise.