Inaugural lecture honours late York U Professor Bernard Luk, researcher of Hong Kong studies

Choi Po King of the Chinese University of Hong Kong will give the inaugural Bernard H.K. Luk Memorial Lecture in Hong Kong Studies on April 27 at York University.

Bernard Luk

A beloved teacher and colleague at York, Professor Luk (1946-2016) was an internationally recognized authority on the history of Hong Kong. This memorial lecture has been created in honour of his work, and aims to be an annual event hosted by the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). For more about Luk’s legacy, visit

All are welcome to Choi’s lecture, titled “Should the Chinese Language be Taught in Putonghua? Contested Identities in the Linguistic Arena in Post-1997 Hong Kong,” which takes place at the Schulich School of Business Executive Dining Room on April 27 at 2:30pm.

In China, the promotion of the standardized national language (putonghua) has been greatly accelerated by centralized state power and universal education since 1949. In this context, Hong Kong is a linguistic (and cultural) anomaly as a haven for Cantonese, and the only Chinese city where a local “dialect” is still officially adopted as the teaching medium in schools. Since 1997, the official line has been surprisingly gentle, with individual schools free to decide whether to switch to putonghua as a medium of instruction. Nevertheless, 70 per cent of primary schools and more than a third of secondary schools made the change by 2013. This is not, however, an uncontested process, with resistance from a small number of language scholars and teachers, and from the younger generation. This resistance, particularly involving students, is related to the Umbrella Movement in 2014, yet its agenda lies in a different sphere.

Choi was trained as a sociologist at the University of Hong Kong and completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford. Until her retirement in 2016, she taught at the Faculty of Education, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and for six years she was director of CUHK’s Gender Studies program. Her research interests and publications revolve around gender and education, masculinity studies, education policy, the history of the women’s movement, as well as life histories of workers in Hong Kong. Her current projects include an ethnography of masculinities among teenage boys in Hong Kong.

Her research interests overlap considerably with those of Bernard Luk, notably Hong Kong culture and history, gender issues, education policy and academic freedom.

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