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06 MAY 2022 (FRI) 16:00-17:00

Updated: Oct 27, 2023


The COVID-Boom: Territorial Stigma, Immobility Policy, and the Gentrification of Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po


Room 10.10, 10F, The Jockey Club Tower

Registration is required for in person attendance only. (15 quotas, first-come-first-serve)


Meeting ID: 960 7466 9768

Password: 245804

Tsz Chung Lai

Department of Sociology, Hong Kong Baptist University

Mr. Lai Tsz Chung received Master of Arts in China Development Studies from HKU in 2021, and is now a research assistant in the Department of Sociology, Hong Kong Baptist University. His interests include neighborhood change, cultural consumption, and urban communities.

Ben A. Gerlofs

Department of Geography, The University of Hong Kong

Dr. Gerlofs works primarily at the intersection of urban, political, and cultural geography, and has conducted extensive research on various forms and expressions of urban change in Mexico City, Chicago, New York, and Hong Kong. He has published articles in leading geographical and interdisciplinary urban studies journals, and is the author of the forthcoming monograph, Monstrous Politics: Geography, Rights, and the Urban Revolution in Mexico City.

He Wang

Department of Geography, The University of Hong Kong

Dr. Wang is an economic geographer, focusing on East Asia. Her primary research interests are technological innovation, industrial upgrading, and regional development. Her current projects study the Chinese automotive industry and FinTech in Hong Kong.



In this presentation we will examine a peculiar case of neighborhood change in Sham Shui Po, one of Hong Kong’s densest and poorest neighborhoods. Based on two mixed-methods research projects conducted in 2021 and early 2022, we use social media analysis and data gathered through a four-component “aesthetic survey” methodology to demonstrate the drastic transformation of a particular section of this neighborhood in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A key question of this research is why such a transformation should be taking place in this exact moment, as previous attempts have been made to stimulate precisely the sorts of changes now observed over the course of the last decade or so, all to no avail. We argue that this unexpected “boom” is the result of a conjunction of pandemic mitigation policy implemented by the Hong Kong Government (which we label “immobility policy”) and the widespread and enduring reputation of Sham Shui Po in the city’s cultural geography (which we explore through Wacquant’s (2008) “territorial stigma”). This case therefore stands to contribute substantially to ongoing debates on the nature and pace of urban change, especially at crucial historico-geographical junctures.

All are welcome!



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