Colours of Money, Shades of Pride

Historicities and Moral Politics in Industrial Conflicts in Hong Kong


Fred Y. L. Chiu

ISBN : 978-962-209-625-7

Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology

June 2003

456 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$390.00

Also available in Paperback HK$220.00

In June 1986, a Japanese watch factory in Hong Kong tried to fire 36 of its women workers. This provoked an unprecedented sit-in by 300 of the women employed at the plant. The sit-in lasted for 13 days and accounted for over half the days lost to labour unrest that year.

At the time Fred Chiu, an ex-prisoner of consciousness in Taiwan, was studying industrial conflicts in Hong Kong. Although an anthropologist, he became deeply and personally involved in the strike. In this account of those intense days, he ‘combines the art of the story-teller with the wizardry of the sophisticated social theorist’ to report the events and to interpret them in a style characterized by clarity, vigour and honesty.

Fred Yen Liang Chiu is Associate Professor of Sociology at Hong Kong Baptist University. He is the author of Politics of Post-Modernity: On Social Movements and Their Discourses (1995, in Chinese); editor of Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies; and co-editor with Marshall Johnson of Subimperialism, a special issue of positions: east asia cultures critique, vol. 8, no. 1., 2000.

“The book flouts the canons of professional social sciences and supplies an unapologetic, deprofessionalized ethnology. Such an ethnography demands a distinct style of participant observation that views social knowledge itself as a craft or vocation, open to conversations with workers’ tacit visions of work-as-a-vocation, to become a new basis of radical dissent in contemporary capitalism. This dissent may find expression not merely in industrial actions such as strikes, but also in subversive intellectual exercises that challenge the institutional basis of unjust, oppressive or soul-sapping labour by drawing upon the implicit theoretical sensitivities and epistemologies of those dissenting or protesting from outside the known world of knowledge.” —Ashis Nandy, Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, and the author of Alternative Sciences; At the Edge of Psychology; Traditions, Tyranny and Utopias; and An Ambiguous Journey to the City

“With this bombshell of a book, Fred Chiu creates an entirely new sensibility. Combining the art of a storyteller with the wizardry of a sophisticated social theorist, he makes us laugh with rogue thought that takes your breath away with its startling clarity, dazzling invention, and an honesty that is at once both painful and delightful. There is nothing like it.” —Michael Taussig, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York

“A layered anthropology of capitalist rationality that deals with the subject-formation of agents, including the investigator. A deeply gender-sensitive multiple narrativation of the formation of collectivities in thirty-six women workers—and multiple actors surrounding them—in a Japanese multi-national company in Hong Kong. Chiu unpacks the principles of narrativization and lays his account to rest with the reproduction of everyday life. A vertiginous performance.” —Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Avalon Foundation Professor, Columbia University