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ePortfolio of Bobby Tam

About me

I am a first year PhD student from Hong Kong. I did my undergraduate and MPhil study previously in the University of Hong Kong.

My research

I study the history of death in nineteenth-century British imperial contexts in East and South East Asia. During my MPhil, I have written a thesis on how death was managed in colonial Hong Kong from 1841 to 1913. I am expanding my interests in history of death to multiple colonial or semi-colonial contexts. I look at how dead bodies were managed, in relation to concepts of tropical environment, cultural clashes, urban spaces, formation of identities, modernisation etc. I mainly utilise colonial documents, newspapers, travel diaries, visual evidences as well as non-English (Chinese) sources like charitable organisations' documents and local gazettes. Apart from the physical management of death, I very much wish to look deeper into people's emotions towards death and how death was represented historically. This would include uncovering personal voices as well as studying cultural representation of death.

Supervisors: Dr. Song-Chuan Chen and Dr. Robert Fletcher

Research interests

I am interested in a wide range of historical topics, including:

History of death

History of emotions

History of youth

History of music

Nineteenth-century British Empire in East and South-east Asia

Late Imperial and Modern China

Academic Profile

The University of Warwick, PhD (History), 10/2018 – 10/2022

The University of Hong Kong, Master of Philosophy (History), 9/2016 – 9/2018
(Thesis submitted - Death in Hong Kong: Managing the Dead in a Colonial City from 1841 to 1913)

The University of Hong Kong, Bachelor of Arts (History) (First Class Honours), 9/2012 – 6/2016

Scholarship and Academic Awards

Warwick China Scholarship, 2018-2021

Dr. John D Young Memorial Scholarship, 2018-19

Postgraduate Scholarship (HKU), 2016-2018

Wang Gungwu Prize for Undergraduate Students, 2015-16

Centenary Prize in History, 2015-16

George Endacott Prize in History, 2013-14

Evergreen Scholarships for History Students, 2013-2016

HKU Foundation Scholarships for Outstanding Students, 2012-13

Teaching and other academic work experiences

Seminar tutor History Department, HKU 1/2017 -5/2017
Conference organiser – Spring History Symposium 2018 in HKU History Department, HKU 3/2018 – 5/2018
Conference helper – Children and Youth in a Global Age Conference History Department, HKU 5/2018

Conference Papers presented

'Morality from the state: funerary practices and burial for infant deaths in early Colonial Hong Kong'
Children and Youth in a Global Age Conference
Organized by University of Hong Kong (25-26 May, 2018)

'A Cemetery of Our Own: Death Management and Identities in Colonial Hong Kong at the turn of the Twentieth Century, 1894 – 1913'
Spring History Symposium
Organized by Department of History, University of Hong Kong (3-4 May, 2018)

'From illegitimate to recognized: Chinese burial spaces in Colonial Hong Kong under intervention and modernization, 1856 -1913'
Resistance in History: From Transgression to Transformation
Organized by Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, Northwestern University (20 April, 2018)

'Early colonial state intervention in Chinese death practices in Hong Kong, 1856-1880'
Spring History Symposium
Organized by Department of History, University of Hong Kong (11 May, 2017)

'Early colonial state management of Chinese deaths in Hong Kong, 1856-1880'
Global South Perspectives: International Workshop
Organized by The Faculty of Social Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University (20 April, 2017)

Language ability

Cantonese Chinese (Native)

English (Proficient)

Mandarin Chinese (Proficient)

German (Beginner – Intermediate)


Bobby Tam