世界で活躍するグローバル・リーダーを bimonthly (隔月ごと）にYGCでインタビューしていきます。全て英語でインタビューが記載されていますので、是非最後まで頑張って読んでいきましょう！
1996年に法政大学国際交流センター、フェローシップのプログラムで来日。同大学で第一教養部専任講師、法学部教授を経て、2008 年に現職であり、立ち上げから関わったグローバル教養学部、Global Interdisciplinary Studies （GIS）の教授に就任されました。主な研究に、「“Lesbians” in East Asia: Diversity, identities, and resistance.」（2006年）、「Legal recognition of same-sex partnership: A comparative study of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.」、「Global norms, state regulations, and local activism: Marriage equality and same-sex partnership, sexual orientation, and gender identity rights in Japan and Hong Kong」（2020年）などがあります。
⏤It’s an honor for us to interview you today. My name is Shino Takamiya, and I run the Global Education Division at SAPIX YOZEMI GROUP. We run a private educational institution, offering afterschool programs (commonly known as a juku). In my division, we support students who wish to further their English studies with hopes of matriculating to overseas universities, namely the United States due to the nature and size of the higher education market. Additionally, we look after students who wish to study at the high school level as well. As you are aware, our English education system in Japan does not enable students to become fluent in English merely by taking English language courses from elementary school. In that sense, our numbers aren’t that great, but we have been getting a lot more awareness in the last few years. Nevertheless, because of the nature of our program, we promote leadership, communication skills, and interactive teaching styles. A few years ago I started to interview global leaders who are successful in Japan in hopes of encouraging our young people to study abroad and become global leaders.
Professor Diana Khor (D.K.): It is my pleasure. So, you serve a wide variety of students? Like in terms of their age and their English proficiency and—
⏤ We want our students to have a certain level of English. In terms of Eiken—since that’s the primary English measurement status in Japan—they would at least need to have a level of Grade 2, which I think is still a little low in order to communicate comfortably, though high by Japanese standards. We want them to get into interactive reading discussions. Without that English level, they won’t be able to matriculate overseas to top-tier schools. Our students range from elementary school to high school. We’re excited to learn a lot about you. I’ve seen your YouTube videos, I’ve seen some of the research—the work you’ve done. It’s very interesting.
D.K.: Thank you!
⏤You were born in Hong Kong during British rule. My younger sister was born in Hong Kong in 1979, under British rule as well. What was it like, growing up in Hong Kong then?
D.K.: To use a word that is quite fashionable in today’s academia, it was characterized by hybridity. The culture is hybridized. Chinese culture and British culture merged seamlessly in terms of everyday experiences. We primarily ate Chinese food at home and would go out for Western food. And then we also had the localized Western food. I have this habit (and I’m not proud of it, being a colonial subject—a member of the generation that grew up in a colony) that I need a cup of British tea every day. Seriously! At four o’clock. Hong Kong was quite cosmopolitan. As we were a colony, there were many expats around. As you know, I went to an American missionary school. We spoke Cantonese and English. Some of my expats school friends actually spoke very good Cantonese. They really picked up the language! So, that’s us. We read newspapers in both languages too. But English was the medium of teaching in school—in most schools, unless you went to “Chinese schools,” but they were very few in number. From grade three onwards I started learning all subjects in English except for Chinese history and Chinese language and literature.
⏤So, did you speak Chinese at home?
D.K.: Yes. I spoke a mix of Chinese and English with my siblings as my father grew up in Malaysia during the British colonial rule! That also explains my last name: “Khor,” which is unusual. I think we were probably the only Khor family in Hong Kong when I was growing up. So, when I would write letters to the editor of local newspapers, my father’s friends would tell him, “Hey I think I saw your daughter’s letter.” If you go to Singapore, you can find a good number of people with the Khor surname. Even as a kid, I knew that there’s a hierarchy among languages. It is better if you speak English than if you speak Chinese, even though 98% of the people spoke Cantonese as their primary language at that time. Chinese was not an official language until the 1980s. That’s when I was in my twenties. My advisor for my master’s degree thesis in Hong Kong University (HKU) was actually instrumental in bringing that about. Well, if you speak a language that’s not the official language, you’re at a disadvantage.
The school curriculum was also British. It was an interesting mix because when I went to school, most of my friends were Chinese and we studied everything in English in an American missionary school, but in a British curriculum. When we studied Shakespeare, the teacher was not happy that we read Shakespeare with an American accent. To me, it didn’t matter, because neither American nor British was “me.” One of the experiences that really stayed with me growing up was seeing images of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband on TV. Every Christmas, the Queen appeared on TV and delivered a message to “her people”, but it never quite synched with me. I never felt really included among the Queen’s “people”. When I was young, I could see that all the governors were British, white, and male. All the heads of departments and members of the government, all the “important people,” the people with power, were all British. That’s what I saw. But I didn’t know the meaning of all these then. It took my getting into sociology to figure everything out.
⏤Did you feel like you were controlled by these people?
D.K.: I did. But I might have a stronger sensitivity to that [now]. It’s what people now call microaggressions, like being slighted at work or being ignored at a restaurant. You feel like you’re not respected as much. Because we studied under a British curriculum, we actually studied colonial literature, such as E.M. Foster’s The Passage to India (1924). But we never took up the issue of colonization. So we approached it like “pure” literature. It wasn’t until college that I began to make sense of the irony of us studying colonial literature in Hong Kong.
⏤I’m sure there were a lot of people who felt the same way as you did.
D.K.: Probably in my generation, yes.
⏤That’s very interesting! I guess when [Hong Kong] reverted back to China in 1997, you were already here. So you didn’t see that transition?
D.K.: No. But, it was quite emotional and I had mixed feelings.
⏤ Was it natural for you to matriculate to the prestigious Hong Kong University (currently ranked 37th in the world) or did you want to study abroad soon after high school graduation?
D.K.: I actually applied to a few places overseas, without letting my parents know! I also didn’t let them know when I applied to Stanford graduate school later either! Sometimes, I wonder if it’s because I went to a missionary school surrounded by pretty well-to-do kids. After graduating high school in Hong Kong, many went overseas. Also, it was very competitive getting into HKU. So, just as insurance, just in case I couldn’t get into HKU, I’d have somewhere else to go. Of course, at that time, being young and financially dependent on my parents, I didn’t realize how expensive an overseas education would be. Luckily, I managed to pass and got into HKU. And I think it was a good decision after all! I feel that I have had a very good education.
⏤Just out of curiosity, what’s the procedure for getting into universities in Hong Kong?
D.K.: It was the British system at that time, so I took the A-Level. The points that you got for the grade for each subject determined whether you got straight in or if you needed to go through an interview. I think at that time 60% of students would pass the A-Level, and 10% among them would pass and get into HKU. I was lucky that I went straight in along with many of my friends from high school!
⏤At first, you were studying Business management, in hopes of taking over your father’s business?
D.K.: Yes, but originally, he probably wanted one of his children to be a doctor. So, the joke in the family is, “Dad, I’m a doctor after all, but in a roundabout way!” It was important to him because he was in medical school but couldn’t finish his studies due to the war. He probably thought that it would be nice if one of his children became a doctor. But he was generally very supportive of us studying. He was proud that his daughters were doing well in school and that I went to HKU because it was his alma mater.
⏤And then you found sociology or sociology found you?
D.K.: Right! I didn’t need to decide on my major until my second year. So in my first year, I tried Business Administration, Statistics, and Economics. We had this financial consultant from the U.S. who was a guest lecturer and he spoke to us about how to control workers. It just didn’t sit very well with me. I learned that Economics was about studying how people make rational choices—and I couldn’t agree with a lot of the basic assumptions. Statistics was fine as a tool and as a skill. In the second semester, I took Philosophy, Psychology, and Sociology. Then I found Sociology. I didn’t even have the best professor that semester, I later realized. Yet, there was something about the subject matter that really grabbed me.
⏤I see. You then continued your studies, onto your Master in Sociology. What kind of professions are there in sociology?
D.K.: You can do research. You can go into marketing. Any work that deals with people and their behavior. Sociology gives you research and analytical skills, and my students would agree. Many graduates from my seminar have an interest in social issues and want to do something to make the world a better place, whether in marketing, in broadcasting, in finance, and whatnot. There’s a wide range of jobs that are available.
⏤What is it about sociology that attracted you?
D.K.: You learn to see things beneath the surface and to question “common sense.” I think that is what attracts me to sociology. What I love about teaching sociology is the “Ah-ha!” moment for students. I can see it in their eyes—their eyes sparkle! “Ah, I never thought about it that way!” That’s what really grabbed me. Almost verbatim, year after year, my students tell me that “Once I’ve learned to see things in a particular way, I cannot not see [them].” Last week, I was chatting with my students and one of them said that she has stopped watching TV with her parents because she notices things their parents do not notice and she doesn’t want to create any conflict by making critical comments. Eventually, they will work it out.
⏤I’m a sociology neophyte—can you explain to us what sociology is?
D.K.: Everybody in sociology, every student of sociology, reads two books: one is The Sociological Imagination (1959) and the other is Invitation to Sociology (1963). The Invitation to Sociology is a thin, but important book. Basically, the idea is you need to be curious. If you pass by a closed door and there’s a keyhole, do you have an urge to peek through the keyhole? That’s the “invitation” to sociology. The Sociological Imagination tells us that sociology is a science. Being a science, we are systematic, we are evidence-based, and yet we are also required to use our imagination and to be creative, to be open-minded, to imagine, to think. Basically, what sociology does, is look at connections between individuals and society. The British Sociological Association defines sociology as the study of how society is organized and our experiences in it. So, that’s a broad way of capturing it. The idea is that we cannot understand an individual without understanding society and vice versa. So that’s what sociology is about in a nutshell.
⏤So it affects everyone.
D.K.: Basically. So we feel it’s really fundamental to education. You can do sociology of anything. My advisor at Stanford used to tell me: “If you have three months, you should be able to read up on a field and teach a class.” We apply the same sociological, critical perspectives. When you pick a new subject matter, you learn the facts, and you can use the same perspectives to approach new subject matters, and I think that’s what my advisor meant when he said that.
⏤What’s your specialty within sociology?
D.K.: Gender and sexuality. Living in Hong Kong, my first love was social class. Marx was my first love, I always tell my students. Sociology pays close attention to inequalities. That’s also my orientation. I tend to see inequalities everywhere. I went to a primary school that was also a missionary school but in a working-class neighborhood. We commuted quite far, but it had a reputation for being a very good school. At times, my father would bring me there because he owned a business and a factory nearby and he would drive me there on the way to work or at times I took public transportation. The neighboring areas were the housing projects. Then I went to this very middle-class secondary school. And I remember talking with my friends in school, looking far away at a hillside where there’re houses so big that they could be seen even from where we were, and they’d tell me, “Hey, that’s where I live.” I just couldn’t ignore these gaps in Hong Kong, the big gap between the rich and the poor. I think Hong Kong used to have the largest number of Rolls-Royce per kilometer, and yet a lot of people were living in housing projects. HKU is situated in the Mid-Levels where the rich people live. It’s also an area that was off-limits to the local Chinese during colonial times, until quite recently in the 19th century. All these things were all around me and sociology helped me make sense of them.
My realm of expertise is gender and sexuality. When I started, there wasn’t really an established “sociology of gender”. So, my advisors would say, “If you’re interested in gender, you go into family (sociology).” The typical idea was that if there’s family, there are women, so that’s gender. Even when I was at Stanford and wanted to do something on gender for my first qualifying exam, I was advised to do it through family sociology. It was a few years later that people began to do exams in sociology of gender. The study of sexuality in sociology is even more recent, and in the past ten years, it has really begun to take off. Core to the discipline, core to the sociology of gender, is the social construction of gender. What is different about researching the sociology of gender and sexuality compared to cultural studies and media representation is we pay attention not just to ideas and images, but also to the material conditions affecting real people. Not just the role expectations, the ideas about or images of women and men. I feel that sociology that pays attention to material conditions is important, and that’s what distinguishes us from cultural studies. You can look at language, you can look at all sorts of things, but you always need to remember the real people who are living and how all these things affect them.
As I said, my first love was social class and that in Hong Kong, it was mostly British sociology that I was exposed to—and class is a huge area, as you can imagine, in British sociology. However, I also felt that when people talked about social class, they were talking about men and not about women, or they assumed that men’s conditions can be generalized to women’s conditions. I decided to explore women and social class. My Master’s degree thesis was actually on gender and class imageries of working and middle-class women.
⏤And, what was the [your] conclusion?
D.K.: You can’t talk about class without talking about gender. There was also something I didn’t realize until later when I first interviewed working-class factory workers. I heard about the exploitations and controls that they experienced in the factory. Later on, I read about the global assembly line, and then I realized, “Ah, those were the women that I interviewed!” When Hong Kong workers began to organize and to claim workers’ rights, the wages became “too high” and so the factories relocated to other countries where wages were cheaper, such as Indonesia and Haiti.
⏤You’ve mentioned a little bit about diversity. I think diversity plays a big role when it comes to gender and sexuality (I think Japan has a lot of work to do in that area). How do you deal with diversity in your lectures and classes?
D.K.: I actually do not address the topic of diversity directly, but I try to integrate it into my class, to make students question the normative forms of, well, anything. For example, when you talk about family, the government usually comes up with a model of a husband and a wife and their two kids and they devise policies based on that model. What I want students to be aware of is that this is just one model of a family. In class, I never just say “family” without specifying it as a heterosexual family, or families with same-sex parents, and so on. I try to decenter the normative form. That’s how I deal with diversity. In my seminar, I focus on intersectionality. We talk about multiple inequalities and how they intersect. To me, to think about diversity is also thinking about inequalities. Did I tell you that I’m responsible for promoting diversity in the University?
⏤Wow, that is wonderful! How do you go about executing that?
D.K.: That’s the issue we’re still working on! There has been a diversity committee for quite some time and the University issued a diversity statement in 2016. The question is how to materialize that. We are working on promoting awareness, and we also try to address the needs of “minority” students and staff, including sexual and gender minorities, people with disabilities, foreign students and staff, and so on. Gender is also our top priority. We have a team to promote gender equality in decision-making positions and increase women researchers, especially in STEM. We also have numerical goals that we want to achieve campus-wide.
⏤What’s the current female-to-male student ratio?
D.K.: It’s about 40% female. Of course, in fields like engineering, it goes down to 10% female. The newer departments (like ours) are half-half or have even slightly more women than men. It’s women faculty that is the issue! I think it’s the same in the United States: They’ve managed to increase the diversity in the student body pretty noticeably in the past 10–20 years, but are less successful in increasing gender and racial diversity in the faculty, especially senior faculty.
⏤Going back to your college life, what was it like, studying at HKU?
D.K.: Honestly, it was a lot of fun! You don’t really need to work to pay the rather cheap tuition because we got a lot of government subsidies. Some of my friends did part-time work, but more for extra pocket money. We had a lot more time than the students in Japan to really enjoy studying. I remember those long lunches we had. We all started with the same curriculum in high school, then we went into different majors in the university. And during lunchtime was when we’d compare notes. We were learning different things and we were very excited about that. We’d theorize about anything! It was kind of the same at Stanford. But, of course, at Stanford I was hanging around mostly other sociologists, so we spoke the same language. But it’s kind of the same thing, the happy hour! You talk, you argue, you theorize, and then you go back to your dissertation. In Hong Kong, I felt that there was a lot of intellectual stimulation and a lot of cultural stimulation. Hong Kong as a city is small, and it’s like a 10-minute bus ride to get to the central city district. They offered a lot of discounts for students for concerts, for plays, and my friends and I made good use of these discounts. All in all, there was a lot of stimulation, and it was very centered on what we were learning at university. It was all part of student life. In that respect, I would say student life in Hong Kong and Japan differs a lot.
⏤Do you think current students are experiencing the same thing, or not so much because of the current political issues in Hong Kong?
D.K.: I have no idea since I have been away for so long and the larger context is so different now. From what I’ve observed and what I’ve heard from my friends, the students are rather politicized. I think that’s a good thing—standing up for themselves and being really critical of what is going on. As you might have heard in the news, there’s a heavy-handed clamp-down…I just read an article in the South China Morning Post that a lot of students are going overseas. Their parents probably don’t have much hope for their future in Hong Kong. We most likely are going to experience a brain drain in Hong Kong.
⏤Didn’t the British government also say that they’ll grant citizenship for people who were born in British colonies? Did you apply for that?
D.K.: No, because I felt that they didn’t do that for us before they left. What they should have done was to have a political system in place to allow us to vote before Hong Kong was returned to China. Once you have a system in place, it would have been much harder for the Chinese government to override it. They kept saying, “You’re not ready, you’re not ready.” Well, we’ll never be ready until a system is in place! So in my whole life, I’ve voted only once because I also can’t vote here. We were just voting at the local level at the time I left. Also, with the change-over, I remember, my passport (which I still keep!) has a stamp on it that says, “This person has no right of abode in the UK.” So, unlike some people that I heard in the news who seem to have fully embraced the British government, I also cannot do that because I have experienced colonialism and the colonial hurt remains.
⏤In the eyes of foreigners, we just thought that people in Hong Kong were very special. We thought they were very lucky to be under British rule and people seemed to be very happy then. But I guess it wasn’t so much…?
D.K.: It wasn’t, at least not to me … but I have to give them credit for freedom of the press. That’s what we had. And that’s what is being taken away now. I mean colonialism cannot possibly be a system that can make people happy because it’s about oppression.
⏤So, life at Stanford was not so different from when you were studying in Hong Kong? Did you have a good student life? Moreover, did you enjoy studying?
D.K.: Oh, it was even better because Stanford has a huge campus, but it’s not really a college town. They have everything on campus. There’s a lot of intellectual stimulation. You can just stroll into a lunchtime talk, for example, in a field totally different from yours. You can go into a physicist’s talk and be stimulated by it. You understand some, and you don’t understand some, and that’s okay. And, students study extremely hard. They play hard on weekends but they also work very hard. And you have facilities for concerts. I’ve seen Itzhak Perlman (a violinist) perform on campus! Tickets were also very cheap. Movies were free at times. I do feel that the Stanford undergraduate students are very fortunate. They’re getting a very good education, plus the professors are very serious about teaching.
⏤Naturally, you would have to study very hard to get in, right? For Japanese [students] it’s [about] studying English, whereas for you, since you always had an English background, it’s not so much about English studies, but about studying to get into a specific program. How difficult was that? I think it would be even difficult for Japanese people with limited English skills as they have to start from the language studies.
D.K.: Particularly, when you get to the graduate level, being able to present your ideas, being able to engage in discussion—that’s probably the [biggest] hurdle for a lot of Japanese students. It depends on your field. I’ve seen two mathematics majors talk to each other without talking. They just exchanged formulas! In the social sciences and humanities, you have to talk, a lot. The discussions can be quite intense. I had classmates pounding on the table and asking others to shut up and so on. It’s quite “uncivilized,” so to speak. The Hong Kong (British) setting is somewhat different—we wrote papers and we discussed. But in either case, I think you need to engage with others. That’s how you learn. That’s probably the most challenging. Thinking of myself speaking in Japanese, there are times when I feel, “Ah, I got my grammar wrong, people don’t really understand me,” but at the same time, if you feel that you really want to say something, you would do so and won’t mind the grammatical mistakes and whatnot. I think we can be more relaxed about speaking in a foreign language, and not be afraid to make mistakes. But do study so that you actually have thoughtful things to say. Even if you speak perfect English, if you have no ideas of your own, it won’t get you very far.