Calanders, reflection, and Ramadan in Sidi Bou Said

2014-07-07 23.44.51

Every now and again events conspire to make one realise that what is taken for granted is actually not so stable or certain.  I frequently have encounters with time that make this real for me.  My most recent experience occurred on a trip I took to Tunisia, where the certainty of the calendar and what constitutes the start of a year was called into question. The Georgian calendar (the one used as the global civil calendar) will for many of us be taken for granted as the way to structure time, yet it does not map onto the cultures and traditions of the majority of the world’s population, and upon reflection I realise only has partial influence upon how I consider my own year.   Through the experience of a collision of calendars one can sometimes also be afforded the chance to consider and reflect on the gifts of serendipitous circumstance, as I was when my personal calendar, the muslim calendar, and assumptions I made based on the Georgian calendar all came together.   Continue reading

Fortune Cookies, Char Siu Pork and Time Travel

You won’t find fortune cookies in Hong Kong, or in other parts of China for that matter. Apparently they are a very old Japanese invention. They became Chinese in the United States. I presume this probably occurred to some degree in the same way that Pakistani and Bangladeshi food in the UK became Indian–through a lack of understanding by the dominant culture of ethnic-national differences in groups.  Pakistani and Bangladeshi migrants found that, in general, the British could locate the Indian subcontinent, but not individual regions and groups, so these groups generalised their geography when identifying their foodways commercially.  Thus, to my mind, it is likely that in the gold-rush era, which saw large influxes of Asians into the western US, the (not so) subtleties that distinguish Japanese from Chinese were lost on the miners who were eating this food. After all the miners referred to these restaurants as Chow Chows and Chinkies. Hardly sensitive or subtle. Continue reading

Finding location: Central Station, Exit C of the Hong Kong MTR

Central MTR station, exit C

I always feel a bit dislocated when first exiting an underground public transport station, whatever city I am in.  It always takes a minute or more to adjust and locate.  There is the moment that occurs where you realise you can orient yourself and you know where you are going. Continue reading

What is Cosmopolitanism?

I presented sections of this work at the University of Sheffield/National University of Singapore workshop: Decentring Knowledge (10-11 September 2012).  Other material is drawn from a lecture on Cosmopolitanism that I gave at Hong Kong University in 2012 to my students taking Geog3414: Cultures, Social Justice and Urban Space.  

What is Cosmopolitanism?

Although not a new term, the idea of cosmopolitanism has experienced a recent revival and has gained currency in theoretical debate.   Much of this revival comes from a concern with the persistence of conflicts based on preserving or expanding territorial Continue reading