Intersectionality and identity in an Asian context: The case of Pakistani youth in Hong Kong

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Minorities always struggle to assert their cultural priorities and values in societies where dominant cultural groups, either purposely or inadvertently, assume that all groups in society will adopted the values of the majority. Hong Kong is no exception to this process. Yet for some minorities such as Pakistanis the situation is more problematic than for others. Poverty, religion and class interact with Pakistani ethnicity creating a complex interplay of influences on identity and citizenship. The issue explored in this study was how these interactions affected identity development. Intersectionality provided the theoretical framework for the study since the focus was on multiple influences on identity all of which were assumed to influence identity formation. Using an interpretive approach, interviews were conducted with a sample of Hong Kong cultural minority youth among whom there was a sub-sample of Pakistanis. Growing up in a multicultural society that does not recognize multicultural values can pose a threat to cultural minorities. Yet there was a particular resilience about the interviewees who, while recognizing the context and its potential for racism and exclusion, found ways to overcome alienation and feelings of being ‘outsiders’. Local language acquisition helped them to integrate with the local society while pan ethnic identity and religion contributed to a distinctive identity. These young people also saw themselves as ‘Hongkongers’, a local term that itself signals distinctiveness. Yet by adopting it, Pakistani youth signaled identification with local values. While none of this posed a direct challenge to the dominant culture, it did show the agentic nature of acculturation processes in a society that barely recognizes cultural diversity. Copyright © 2017 CiCe Association Conference.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


Kennedy, K., Hue, M. T., Bhowmik, M., & Ng, H. Y. (2017, June). Intersectionality and identity in an Asian context: The case of Pakistani youth in Hong Kong. Paper presented at The CiCe Association Conference 2017: Reaffirming Citizenship Education in an Uncertain World, VIVES, Bruges/Brugge, Belgium, Germany.


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