First Advisor

Sharon A. Carstens

Term of Graduation

Fall 1993

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology






Chinese Americans -- Ethnic identity, Chinese -- China -- Hong Kong



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 112 pages)


During the last ten years, the number of Hong Kong Chinese migrating to the U.S. has increased. These new immigrants, with knowledge and life experiences shaped by the urban metropolis of Hong Kong, have begun to influence different aspects of Chinese communities in U.S. cities. A study of this group of Hong Kong Chinese provides a better understanding of how they have adapted to their new environment and how they have come to recognize themselves as Hong Kong Chinese Americans. In reviewing the available literature, very few studies have dealt with the identity changes of this group of people. Hence, the focus of this research was to discuss, specifically, 1) the components that constituted Hong Kong Chinese American identity and how they have changed; and 2) to illustrate the application of practice theory and the concept of habitus to the explanation of the formation of a sense of commonality among Hong Kong Chinese Americans. Twenty-eight Hong Kong Chinese who came to the U.S. in the last twenty-five years were selected and agreed to participate in a formal interview. According to the data collected from the informants and observations made on different occasions where Chinese were present, it became obvious that Hong Kong Cantonese language is the most unique component constituting a Hong Kong Chinese identity. Although nine other cultural traits discussed were not unique markers of this identity, these traits reflected changes among Hong Kong Chinese immigrants. Some of the traits endured the drastic changes of the socioeconomic and political situation in the U.S. and surfaced as major traits for them, while some other components lost their significance after the Hong Kong Chinese moved to the U.S. Practice theory and the concept of habitus helps to illustrate the identity labeled by the Hong Kong Chinese immigrants as "Hong Kong Chinese" as rooted in a sense of commonality among themselves. Such a sense is developed from the shared experience they had in Hong Kong and in the U.S.


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