CCGL9056 Global Issues

How We Move: Migration, Border Crossing, and Identity


Course Description

Modern people are global people – we are people on the move. About 1 out of 5 us who live in Hong Kong came from somewhere else, and many more of us have family who did. Yet these days global people are also falling under suspicion as refugees, immigrants, and dual citizens are targeted as alien, disloyal, and even dangerous. In this course, we ask what it means to have a global identity: to be a migrant, a cosmopolitan, a border-crosser.

We start by thinking about “home”: what makes us think we belong somewhere, and what makes us feel like outsiders? We then look at the ties that bind us beyond borders: What allows us to think of ourselves as part of a diaspora? How do we find love and create families, even when our loved ones are very far away?

We also investigate migration using gender, race, and class. We look at Hong Kong’s domestic workers/“helpers” to think about the intimate spaces inside homes. And we ask how migration helps to define race through law, science, and everyday interactions.

Throughout the course, we will use fun and interesting examples from movies, fiction, photos, and oral histories to understand our global identities, all with the goal of asking: how do we understand the world differently when we “see” as global people? And how does this help us become engaged citizens of the “global city” where we live?

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Reflect on and articulate a critical understanding of global identities by examining issues such as identity, love, safety, hierarchy, and war.
  2. Analyze the connections and comparisons between our daily experiences and the experiences and concerns of global people through the lenses of class, gender, regional, and colonialism.
  3. Analyze how refugees, migrants, cosmopolitans, and other globetrotters are embedded in networks; and see how our identities connect with these networks. Gain expertise on how people move around the world, and how our exercises of power affect their movement.
  4. Demonstrate critical creative thinking and collaboration.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Reading / Self-study 38
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 44
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 6
Total: 120

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Meeting participation 25
Mid-term essay 25
Final project 50

Required Reading

Required for purchase

  • Yang, G. L. (2006). American Born Chinese.  [Short graphic novel/comic book]

Other required readings and movies

  • Constable, N. (1997). Maid to order in Hong Kong: Stories of Filipina workers. [Excerpts]
  • Ford, S. (2011). Troubling American Women. [Brief excerpts]
  • Han, S. (2016). Swimming in Hong Kong. [Fictional short story]
  • Law, C. (Director). (1996). Floating Life. [Film]
  • Mathews, G., Lin, D., & Yang, Y. (August 12, 2014). How to evade states and slip past borders: Lessons from traders, overstayers, and asylum seekers in Hong Kong and China. City & Society, 26(2), pp. 217-238.
  • Sinn, E. (2012). Pacific crossings. [Brief excerpts]
  • Weiss, A. M. (July, 1991). South Asian Muslims in Hong Kong: Creation of a ‘Local Boy’ identity. Modern Asian Studies, 25(3), 417-453.
  • Wong, K. -W. (Director). (2000). In the Mood for Love. [Film]
  • Selected newspaper articles on current immigration issues
  • Excerpts from oral history interviews with Hong Kong migrants

Recommended Reading

  • Bhanji, N. (2011). TRANS/SCRIPTIONS: Homing desires, (trans)sexual citizenship and racialized bodies. In T. Cotten (Ed.), Transgender migrations: The bodies, borders, and politics of transition. New York: Routledge.
  • Brown, J. M., & Foot, R. (Eds.). (1994). Migration: The Asian experience.
  • Doerfler, J. (2015). Those who belong: Identity, family, blood, and citizenship among the white earth anishinaabeg.
  • Gilroy, P. (1993). The Black Atlantic.
  • Harzig, C., & Hoerder, D., & Gabaccia, D. (2013). What is migration history?. [Migration in Human History—the Long View]
  • Hsu, M. (2000/2018). Dreaming of gold, dreaming of home: Transnationalism and migration between the United States and South China, 1882-1943. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Hu-DeHart, E. (2007).  La Trata Amarilla: The ‘Yellow Trade’ and the middle passage, 1847-1884. In E. Christopher et al (Eds.), Many middle passages: Forced migration and the making of the modern world, pp. 166–183. University of California Press.
  • Ku, A. (July, 2004). Immigration policies, discourses, and the politics of local belonging in Hong Kong (1950-1980). Modern China, 30(3), 326–360.
  • Lai, M. -Y. (2010). Dancing to different tunes: Performance and activism among migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong. Women’s Studies International Forum, 33(5), 501-511.
  • McKeown, A. (May, 1999). Conceptualizing Chinese Diasporas, 1842 to 1949. The Journal of Asian Studies, 58(2), 306-337.
  • Newendorp, N. (2008). Uneasy reunions: Immigration, citizenship, and family life in post-1997 Hong Kong.
  • Ong, A. (2006). Neoliberalism as exception: Mutations in citizenship and sovereignty.
  • Spickard, P. (2009). Immigration, race, ethnicity, colonialism.

Recommended Websites


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr J.T. Petrulis
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2874
Email: petrulis@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr J.T. Petrulis
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2874
Email: petrulis@hku.hk