Two upcoming online lectures by Dr. Bill Mak – “Aquilaria and Maritime Silk Road” and “Hindu Cemetery in Hong Kong”

1. Cambridge University, King’s College Silk Roads Programme
Title: Aquilaria and Exotic Aromatics on the Maritime Silk Roads
Speaker: Dr. Bill Mak
Date: 19 May 2023
Time: 6:00 pm (Hong Kong Time); 11:00 am (British Standard Time)
Description: The historical importance of the overland Silk Road connecting China, India, and other Eurasian cultures has generated much scholarly interest in the past century. On the other hand, that of the maritime routes requires further exploration, especially from a longue-durée perspective. This paper examines the role of the Maritime Silk Road connecting South China, Southeast Asia, India, and beyond from the first millennium CE, focusing on the case of aromatic trade, from which Hong Kong was named after. The spread of the exotic aromatics and the cultivation of a variety of species of Aquilaria across tropical and subtropical Asia demonstrate the robust and long-lasting connectivity between a number of Asian cultures from China to the far end of the Indian Ocean.
2. 2023 Congress meeting of Canadian South Asian Studies Association (CSASA)
Title: Hindu Cemetery in Hong Kong—An Unusual History and its Post-colonial Legacy
Speaker: Dr. Bill Mak
Date: 27/28 May 2023
Time: TBC
During the nineteenth century, South Asian communities are established rapidly across Southeast and East Asia as a result of Britain’s imperial expansion. Since Hong Kong became a crown colony of the British Empire in 1842, South Asians arrived in great number both in service to the colonial government as well as to seek commercial opportunities as individuals. South Asian immigrants of different ethnic backgrounds and religious affiliations soon took root on the Chinese soil, adopted local customs and the local Cantonese language while maintaining their unique identities; some throve to become prominent members of the local elite society by triangulating as trusted agents of the colonial government. Although most of these South Asian communities in Hong Kong date back to mid- to late nineteenth century and many of their forefathers arrived in Hong Kong earlier than most of the current Cantonese population, who migrated from the neighbouring Guangdong region or other parts of southern China only later in the twentieth century shortly before or after WWII, the South Asians remain perceived as foreigners by the Chinese locals. The postcolonial government continue to address issues such as inequality, diversity, and inclusivity in their policies. This paper focuses on the history of the nineteenth-century Hindu Cemetery in Hong Kong, an unusual arrangement in orthodox Hinduism, as a case study of the diasporic vicissitude of the South Asian communities in Hong Kong from the colonial period down to the present.


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2023 History of Science Conference and Public Lectures in Hong Kong

The Needham Conference 2023 turns away from the traditional Needham’s so-called Grand Comparative Question “Why modern science developed in Europe but not in China?” which has been the subject of lively discussion and debate in many international forums over decades. Instead, it sets out to address his second, much under-explored, Grand Dialogical Question “Why and how did exchanges across multiple Eurasian civilisations lead to the birth and growth of modern science?”

The conference will be held at The HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) from 23 – 24 March 2023. With the theme “Needham’s Dialogical Vision: Understanding Science as a Multi-Civilizational Outcome”the two-day conference will bring together more than twenty leading scholars from across the world to address Needham’s dialogical question of how and why such exchanges across cultures came to enrich modern science today.

Program: CLICK here

Registration for in-person or online Zoom participation (23–24 March, 2023): CLICK here


  • Historical Sociology in Dialogue (Panel 1)
  • Cosmologies in Dialogue (Panels (Panels 2 & 3)
  • Natural Sciences in Dialogue (Panels 4 & 5)
  • Medical Traditions in Dialogue (Panel 6)
  • Modes of Inquiry in Dialogue (Panel 7)

Three public lectures at the Hong Kong Palace Museum (25 March, 2023, 9:00 am)

1. The Process of Learning and Surpassing in the Advancement of Science and Civilizations

Professor LEE Chack Fan (Director of the HKU – Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole)

2. Technologies of the Book in Dunhuang during the 9th and 10th Centuries Professor

Imre GALAMBOS (East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge)

3. Babylonian and Chinese Astronomy: Comparison, Circulation, and Dialogue

Professor John STEELE (Brown University)

If you would like to join the three lectures in person on 25 March, please register here or write to the Secretariat: /