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Dr Gary Chi-hung Luk

Dr Gary Chi-hung Luk

Affiliated Researcher in Chinese Studies, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies

Economic History Society Tawney Fellow


Receiving my D.Phil. in Oriental Studies (Chinese Studies) from the University of Oxford, I am currently the Economic History Society Tawney Fellow (junior research fellow) at the Institute of Historical Research in the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Before coming to the U.K., I did my B.A. in History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and M.Phil. in History at the University of Hong Kong.

My doctoral research was supported by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and the Swire Educational Trust.


Subject groups/Research projects

Chinese Studies:

Research Interests

Broadly speaking I work on early modern and modern Chinese history and British imperial and colonial history, with particular emphasis on the maritime and river world, ethnicity, empires, and borderlands. My specializations also include modern Hong Kong and Manchu studies.

I am currently converting my doctoral dissertation, “The Opium War, Overlapping Empires, and China’s Water Borders,” into my first single-authored monograph, which looks at the profound impact of the Opium War (1839-1842) on local littoral communities in southeast China (Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu provinces). Employing a wide body of interdisciplinary scholarship on early modern and modern frontiers and borderlands, I argue that the Opium War transformed vast maritime and waterway regions in southeast China into “water borders,” where many Chinese people expanded their trading activities and social networks. My postdoctoral research looks at three war-stricken regions, i.e. the Pearl River Mouth in Guangdong, Xiamen and Gulangyu Islands in Fujian, and Eastern Zhejiang, during wartime and in the decade that followed. My book will contribute to not only Opium War studies but also scholarship on Chinese maritime history, late imperial Chinese social history, British imperial history, and global frontier history.

I am also interested in Hong Kong’s British colonial past and its multifaceted connections with China. My edited volume on Hong Kong’s transformation from a British colony to what some would call a “Chinese colony” after the 1997 handover is forthcoming in 2017, the twentieth anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to the PRC. Moreover, I am participating in a collaborative project on the Dagur Story, a Manchu historical fiction about a local tribe’s defense against Russian incursions in seventeenth-century Inner Asia.

Key Publications

From a British to a Chinese Colony? Hong Kong before and after the 1997 Handover. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley (edited volume; forthcoming)

“Straddling the Handover: Colonialism and Decolonization in British and PRC Hong Kong.” In Gary Chi-hung Luk, ed., From a British to a Chinese Colony? Hong Kong before and after the 1997 Handover. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley (book chapter; forthcoming)

“Occupied Space, Occupied Time: Food Hawking and the Central Market in Hong Kong’s Victoria City during the Opium War.” Frontiers of History in China 11.3 (September 2016): 400-430.

“Monopoly, Transaction and Extortion: Public Market Franchise and Colonial Relations in British Hong Kong, 1844-58.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch 52 (2012): 139-187.