Global Cities & Illegality – Design

The project is based on exploratory ethnographic research conducted with some hundred participants in Hong Kong in 2010-11. Over 7000 people were in the territory seeking protection at the UNHCR or the Immigration Department under the Convention against Torture, or both.

While asylum seekers in Hong Kong are tolerated pending the determination of their asylum or torture claim, they are not afforded legal or economic rights, becoming overstayers or ‘illegal’ immigrants. Through the accounts of these people, this research provides vivid and informative descriptions of asylum seekers’ lives while they pursue protection, profit and future in the territory. Further, this research establishes the means for them to be known and their stories to be heard.

To comprise the greatest variety of experiences, three very diverse communities formed the core of the population under study. They are asylum seekers from Sub-Sahara Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Employers were also heard, together with charity workers and legal activists.