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Emulating the Other: The Festivals, Rituals, and Ethnic Groups of Kat O, Northeastern New Territories, Hong Kong

Special Issue
Chi-cheung CHOI (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

The standards for correct culture and modes of life in local society rely on local elites' understanding, interpreting and implementing of an ideal cultural model on the one hand, and are the result of local people's learning, comparing and selecting cultural elements from the communities around them on the other hand. From the local community's perspective, the correct way of living is a long term process involving contact, imitation and selection. Kat O is an island situated near the northeastern border of Hong Kong. Its inhabitants include land dwellers who claim to be "Hakka" and the floating population (the Hokko and Tanka) who were for a long period of time despised by the former group. The land dwellers, who were themselves fishermen before moving onshore, identified themselves through self-affiliation with the neighboring Hakka village alliances. Their Hakka identity has strengthened since the 1930s when the floating population started to move ashore. Contemporary ethnic boundaries in Kat O were not conferred or imposed by the imperial state but are the result of a long term process involving the people's narration of their own history, their ritual practices, and their emulation of their neighbors' ways of living.

Journal of History and Anthropology