Research Areas

Ethnicity & Religion

My research on ethnicity and religion has focussed on three major themes, Muslims as minorities, Ethnicity in Hong Kong, and Pilgrimage.

 

Completing my PhD on an ethnographic study of Muslim youth in Hong Kong, I went on to publish a monograph with HKU Press on Islam in Hong Kong.

 

My research has also looked at Muslims performing the Hajj from Hong Kong, Muslim representations in Cantonese media, experiences of feeling ethnic, and education for white families in Hong Kong. I have also explored the conceptual frames of cultural hybridity and rhythmanalysis in empirical work on ethnicity. 

My most recent work is an overview on ethnicity in the Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Hong Kong.

 

Skateboarding

After skateboarding for over 30 years I decided to turn my research focus closer to home in 2014 and explore the cultural practices of skateboarders. 

What I thought would be familiar has turned out to be methodologically challenging and intellectually gripping.

My first project looked at the prefigurative politics of skateboard philanthropy. I then explored helmet use in a Hong Kong skatepark, recognising the contested issues of control between local government and skateboarders. 

One of my favourite projects looked at how middle-aged skateboarders made sense of their continued participation in the subculture. This also led me to explore themes of religion and thus connect two of my research areas. I subsequently published a paper on sacred places and secular pilgrimage in skateboarding.

In addition I have work on skateboarding networks, ethnicity and skateboarders, hybrid skateparks, subcultural skateboard mega-events, and skateboard spirituality at various stages of completion. 

 

I participated in the Pushing Boarders event in London, and frequently blog on skateboarding topics. 

 

Hybridity & Rhythmanalysis

Without knowing it (which does not mean “unconsciously”), the human species draws from the heart of the universe, movements that correspond to its own movements. (Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis)

Much of my work is informed by two strains of Social Theory. My doctoral theses developed the concept of Everyday Hybridity. This was a contrast to the elitist and abstract post-colonial discussions that have dominated talk on cultural hybridity. In pursuing my research focus on Muslim youth I was compelled to argue that hybridity was tangible, self evident, and even mundane in Hong Kong. I have explored various other ways to operationalise hybridity and continue to be an advocate of the concept.

As part of my exploration of everyday social theory I have engaged with Lefebvre and become a proponent of his paradigm of Rhythmanalysis. I have sought to operationalise this as a part of my ethnographic work. Both hybridity and rhythmanalysis are relevant to Hong Kong, I also plan to explore these concepts in other settings.

 

This is ongoing work looking at how people manage digital detoxes. I am interested in the frustrations people have with social media, and the strategies they employ to cope with the demands of being connected. I have also explored SNS in some research and continue to address digital society in my ethnographic work.

Take part in a simple survey by scanning the QR code below, or by clicking on this link.

Digital Society

 

Dr Paul O'Connor 2019

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