Whiteness out of place: White parents’ encounters with local Chinese schooling in post-colonial Hong Kong
We identify a missing narrative about the place of whiteness in post-colonial Hong Kong. Using an anthropological framework developed by Mary Douglas, we show how white migrants who try to integrate their children into local Cantonese medium of instruction schools are challenged by recurring obstacles that highlight their whiteness and signal them as ‘matter out of place’ by transgressing colonial assumptions about whiteness in the territory. In adopting this framework, we reorient the current focus of whiteness studies away from examining the strategies and performances employed by white migrants in the production of whiteness to the regulation of whiteness by the social order. By identifying the absence of an appropriate narrative for these parents in the local education system, we highlight not just the continuity of colonial constructs of whiteness, but also the constraints upon those who try to escape them.
Journal title, volume/issue number, page range
The Sociological Review. 2020;68(1):209-224.
Diasporas and Migration