Dr Travis S K KongAssociate Professor
+852 3917 2055
Research and scholarship
I received my PhD in sociology from the University of Essex with a specialization in identity, sexuality and masculinity. I commit myself as a sociologist who critically engages with contemporary Western theories in understanding notions of identity, masculinity, the body and intimacy in modern Chinese communities in the context of global cultures. I seek dialogues within sociology (e.g., criminology, media and cultural studies, and gender and sexuality studies) and across disciplines (e.g., medical sciences, anthropology, post-colonialism and feminism) in order to yield better understandings of Chinese sexuality. I see my work as part of the newly emerging Asian queer studies, which aims to understand the complex process of Western, local and inter-regional knowledge systems in shaping experiences, identities and desires in specific sites in Asia. My research has a strong component of knowledge exchange and is action-oriented.
I mainly teach gender and sexuality studies as well as media and cultural studies. My research specializes in Chinese homosexuality and masculinity, commercial sex in Hong Kong and China, social impacts of HIV/AIDS, and transnational Chinese sexuality.
Sociology of homosexuality
My first single-authored book, Chinese Male Homosexualities: Memba, Tongzhi and Golden Boy, investigates Chinese gay identity, desire and masculinity under the thesis of sexual citizenship in contemporary Chinese societies, and within global culture. Through 90 life stories of Chinese men interviewed in Hong Kong, London and Mainland China (major sites: Guangdong, Shanghai and Beijing) and extensive ethnographic fieldtrips over ten years, this book rejects global homogenization and local essentialism and proposes a new paradigm of queer hybridization in theorizing Chinese sexual identities, desires and practices in a transnational scale. It conjoins Queer Asian Studies to set a new agenda to understand sexuality in non-western contexts.
Recently, I have published work on ageing gay sexuality which addresses the missing gap between sexuality and aging literatures by studying ‘generational sexualities’ under the colonial and post-colonial Hong Kong. Based on my academic research on gay sexuality, I was awarded a Knowledge Exchange (KE) Impact Project in 2013 which aimed to document stories of older (60+) gay men living in Hong Kong in order to raise public awareness of their unspoken needs and problems to the general public and service providers. In 2014, I published《男男正傳︰香港年長男同志口述史》(Oral History of Older Gay Men in Hong Kong) which tells the stories of twelve such men by mixing academic analysis with autobiographies. This project also enabled me to invite four artists who took photographs of the men’s current lives. I have held a series of book talk and photo exhibition in Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong and London. This academic research was turned into participatory action research with an impact on the community through helping the participants and others set up a self-help group (晩同牽, Gay & Grey) in 2014.
My future plan is four-folded:
- To continue to work on my ‘Gay and Grey’ project by doing a comparative study of older gay men in different locales, including mainland China (major site: Guangdong), UK (major site: London) and US (major sites: New York and Francisco).
- I have awarded a GRF (2016) which aims to examine and compare the processes and challenges of identity formation of young gay men (aged 18-28) in Hong Kong, mainland China (major site: Shanghai) and Taiwan (major site: Taipei). This trans-local study will examine the queer flow of circulation of ideas, bodies and capital among and within the three Chinese locals that constitute, inform and shape identities, practices and desires.
- I am now working with British scholar Prof. Stevi Jackson and colleagues from HKU, York and SOAS to develop a fund bid to ESRC for a comparative study of masculinity and men’s relationships in the UK, mainland China and Hong Kong.
- I am now examining a newly emerged trend of gay men taking drugs which links intimately to the alarming increasing number of HIV infection among the gay population in Hong Kong. This research not only bridges gap between sexuality studies and drug research but also has important policy implications.
Sociology of sex work
My initial research in this area examined the lived experiences of female sex workers in Hong Kong but later shifted to male sex workers first in Hong Kong and later in mainland China. My recent focus is to contextualize the lived experiences of male sex workers (or ‘money boys’) within the broader social economic transitions in contemporary China. My latest development in this area examines clients of commercial sex, ranging from the complicated client-worker relationship, the intersection between intimacy and commerce, the idea of masculinity, the sexual stigma, and, ultimately, on the nature of human sexuality. My future plan is to write a book which discusses the social processes entailed in erotic labour (e.g., class, poverty and migration), the boundary between public and private lives (e.g., work/intimacy, client/lover), the different forms of masculinity (e.g., worker masculinity, client masculinity) and the issue of social stigma, risks and discrimination – all in relation to the regulatory models governing prostitution in Hong Kong and post-socialist China.
I have become the Editor (together with Feona Attwood and Roisin Ryan-Flood, 2012-) of Sexualities: Studies in Culture and Society, the leading journal of human sexualities using multi-disciplinary, theoretical-driven, and research-based qualitative approaches within a global framework. Established since 1998, Sexualities presents cutting edge debates on both the empirical nature of contemporary sexualities and theoretical/critical analysis of them. My unique contribution is to promote research publications and dialogues that go beyond the UK-North America-Australasia intellectual region.
Teaching and Learning
My teaching philosophy is to be passionate about my teaching subjects and engage with students. Learning is for understanding, not for reproduction. Making use of my training in sociology and my research expertise in gender and sexuality, I emphasize a learner-centered approach that is interactive and multi-media based with a special focus on everyday life experiences in order to nurture critical thinking, appreciation of difference, integration of theory with practice, and creativity. As a recipient of the 2013 Social Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, I continue to provide advice on teaching and learning to junior staff and colleagues across departments.
My teaching contributions can be seen by my leadership and collaborative roles in two areas (curriculum design and teaching and learning) through three major duties:
- I am the Programme Director of a newly launched MSocSc programme in Media, Culture and Creative Cities at the department. The programme has been successful and distinctive from other local programmes because of our multidisciplinary approach in understanding media and culture as well as our excellent connection with the community through our capstone project.
- I am the Director of MC3@702 Creative Space at the department. It is the first of its kind to combine teaching and learning in a multi-media format in the department and faculty levels, the space goes beyond the conventional boundaries of teaching and learning as well as research by underscoring interactions and exchanges among researchers, public intellectuals, cultural practitioners, students, and the general public. Since its establishment in 2013, we have held 15 exhibitions and have attracted almost 7000 visitors with wide media coverage.
- I am Associate Dean (Undergraduate Education) of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The post enables me to take the lead to coordinate and oversee the smooth running and development of the undergraduate BSocSci curricula and other joint degree programmes (e.g., BEd & BSocSci). My main duties fall into different aspects such as curriculum development, quality monitoring, admissions, students’ advising/monitoring and running of some summer proprammes.
University of Essex (UK)
Gender and sexuality studies
Cultural and media studies
Contemporary social theory
Qualitative research methods
Chinese homosexuality and masculinity
Prostitution in Hong Kong and China
Social impacts of HIV/AIDS
Transnational Chinese sexuality
Honours and recognitions
Social Sciences Knowledge Exchange Award, HKU (2015): Recognition of my knowledge exchange project on older gay men in Hong Kong
Prism Award, Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (2014): Recognition of my long term service to and research on LGBTQ community in Hong Kong
Impact Project (Knowledge Exchange), HKU (2013–2014): Recipient of a grant to raise public awareness of the unspoken needs and problems of older gay men to the general public and service providers.
HKU-Kings Fellowship, HKU (2013-2014): To explore research and teaching possibilities between the two institutions, resulting in a public talk and a photo exhibition in London in 2014.
Social Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, HKU (2013): Recognition of my engaging, interactive and creative teaching methods and innovation with consistent high evaluation scores and positive students’ feedbacks.
(forthcoming) ‘Sexual Cultures in Asia’, in George Ritzer (ed.) The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology (new edition). London: Blackwell (co-authored with Lau Hoi Leung and Li Cheuk Yin).
2016. “Sex and Work on the Move: Money Boys in Post-Socialist China”, Urban Studies, published online first 13 July 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042098016658411
2016. “The Sexual in Chinese Sociology: Homosexuality Studies in Contemporary China”, Sociological Review, published online first 4 April 2016. DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.12372
2015. “The Fourth Wave? A Critical Reflection on Tongzhi Movement in Hong Kong”. In Mark McLelland and Vera Mackie (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia. London and New York: Routledge. (co-authored with Lau Hoi Leung and Li Cheuk Yin)
2015. “Buying Sex as Edgework: Hong Kong Male Clients in Commercial Sex”. British Journal of Criminology, published online: 25 May.
2015. “Romancing the Boundary: Client Masculinities in the Chinese Sex Industry.” Culture, Health and Sexuality, published online: 20 February.
(2014) 。《男男正傳︰香港年長男同志口述史》。香港：進一步多媒體有限公司。[Oral History of Older Gay Men in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Stepforward Multimedia (in Chinese)]
2014. “Male Sex Work in China”. In Victor Minichiello and John Scott (eds.) Male Sex Work and Society. New York: Harrington Press.
2012. “Fading Queer Heterotopia: Hong Kong Older Gay Men’s Queer Use of Spaces” Sexualities, 15 (8): 896-916.
2012. “Men Who have Sex with Men: Stigma and Discrimination” The Lancet 2012 Special Theme Series: Men who Have Sex with Men and HIV 380: 439-445. (co-authored with Dennis Altman, Peter Aggleton, Michael Williams, Vasu Reddy, David Harrad, Toni Reis, and Richard Parker)
2012. “Reinventing the Self under Socialism: The Case of Migrant Male Sex Workers in China.” Critical Asian Studies 44 (2): 283-308.
2012. “Sex Entrepreneurs in the New China”. Contexts 11 (3): 28-33. (PDF)
2012 “Chinese Male Bodies: A Transnational Study of Masculinity and Sexuality.” In B. Turner (ed.) The Routledge International Handbook of Body Studies. London: Routledge. Pp. 289-306.
2012. “Relationship Type, Condom Use and HIV/AIDS Risks among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Six Chinese Cities”. AIDS Care24 (4): 517-528 (co-authored with K.J. Laidler and Herbert. Pang)
2011.“Transnational Queer Labour: The “Circuits of Desire” of Money boys in China”. English Language Notes, 49 (1): 139-144.
2011. Chinese Male Homosexualities: Memba, Tongzhi and Golden Boy. London: Routledge.
2010.“Outcast Bodies: Money, Sex and Desire of Money Boys in Mainland China”. In Yau Ching (ed.) As Normal As Possible: Negotiating Sexuality and Gender in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. Pp. 17-35.
2009.“More than a Sex Machine: Accomplishing Masculinity among Chinese Male Sex Workers in the Hong Kong Sex Industry”. Deviant Behavior, 30 (Nov): 715-745. (PDF)
2009.“Where is My Brokeback Mountain?” Social Transformations in Chinese Societies (Special Issue: Doing Families in Hong Kong), 4: 135-59.
2008.“Risk Factors Affecting Condom Use among Male Sex Workers Who Serve Men in China: A Qualitative Study”. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 84: 444-8.
2007.“To Determine Factors in an Initiation of a Same-sex Relationship in Rural China: Using Ethnographic Decision Model”. AIDS Care, 19 (7): 850-857. (co-authored with William C.W. Wong).
2006. “What It Feels Like for a Whore: The Body Politics of Women Performing Erotic Labour in Hong Kong.” Gender, Work and Organization, 13 (5): 409-434.
2006. “The HIV-related Risks among Men Having Sex with Men in Rural Yunnan, China: A Qualitative study.” Sexually Transmitted Infections. 82: 127-130. (co-authored with W.C.W. Wong, J.B. Zhang, S.C. Wu, and D.C.Y. Ling)
2006. “Asian Sexual Cultures.” In G. Ritzer (ed.) Encyclopedia of Sociology. London: Blackwell. Pp. 4213-4218.
2006. “Sexualizing Asian Male Bodies.” In Steven Seidman, Nancy Fischer, and Chet Meeks (eds.) Introducing The New Sexuality Studies. New York: Routledge. Pp. 90-95.
2006. Multiple entries  in David Gerstner (ed.) Queer Culture: The Routledge Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Contemporary International Culture. New York and London: Routledge.
2005. “Queering Masculinity in Hong Kong Movies.” In Pang Lai-kwan and Day Wong (eds.) Masculinities and Hong Kong Cinema. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. Pp. 57-80.
2005. Rethinking and Recasting Citizenship: Social Exclusion and Marginality in Chinese Societies. Hong Kong: Centre for Social Policy Studies, Department of Applied Social Sciences, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. (co-edited with May Tam, Ku Hu-bin)
2005. “The Hidden Voice: The Sexual Politics of Hong Kong Male Sex Workers”. Hong Kong: Centre for Social Policy Studies, Department of Applied Social Sciences, the Hong KongPolytechnicUniversity.
2004. “Queer at Your Own Risk: Marginality, Community, and the Body Politics of Hong Kong Gay Men.” Sexualities, 7 (1): 5-30.
2003. “A Research Report on the Working Experiences of Hong Kong’s Female Sex Workers”. Hong Kong: Centre for Social Policy Studies, Department of Applied Social Sciences, the Hong KongPolytechnicUniversity and Zi Teng. (co-authored with Zi Teng)
2002. “Queering the Interview.” In Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Holstein (eds.) Handbook of Interview Research: Context & Method. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Pp. 239-258. (co-authored with Plummer, K., and Mahoney, D.)
2002. “The Seduction of the Golden Boy: The Body Politics of Hong Kong Gay Men.” Body & Society, 8 (1): 29-48.