I want to...
Sylvia Martin

Dr Sylvia J Martin

Assistant Professor


9.15, 9/F., The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus


Sylvia J Martin received her PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Irvine. Prior to joining the University of Hong Kong, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Pomona College in California. She was also the recipient of a Postdoctoral Fulbright Fellowship at The University of Hong Kong in 2010-2011.

Sylvia’s forthcoming book, Haunted: An Ethnography of the Hollywood and Hong Kong Media Industries (Oxford University Press), is based on multi-sited fieldwork she conducted in the Hollywood and Hong Kong film and television industries. Through participant observation on film and television sets, she examined how media professionals in both sites were impacted by the various risks involved in filming spectacular images and dramatic storylines. She also explores how job insecurity and industrial decline were experienced in both sites. Not just a study in contrasts, the book lays out some of the commonalities and transnational connections between the two commercial production centers.

She has also taught and published on the construction of cultural icons through myth, media, and transnational markets. She is interested in ethnographic encounters and ethnographic writing.

Courses taught


University of California, Irvine

Joint MA Anthropology and Women’s Studies
Brandeis University (Boston, USA)

BA Religious Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Research interests

Cultural anthropology
Media industries
Globalization and transnationalism
Participatory culture
Anthropology of work
Race and ethnicity

Current research

State power and film industries
The production and reception of cultural icons: Myth, media, and transnational markets

Honours and recognitions

Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship, The University of Hong Kong, 2010-2011

Selected publications


(Forthcoming, 2016) Haunted: An Ethnography of the Hollywood and Hong Kong Media Industries. Oxford University Press.

Journal articles:

2015. “The Death Narratives of Revitalization: Colonial Governance, China, and the Reconfiguration of the Hong Kong Film Industry.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, v. 32, p. 318-332.

2015. “Michael Jackson’s Gesamtkunstwerk: Artistic Interrelation, Immersion, and Interactivity From the Studio to the Stage.” Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, v. 11, 5.

2012. “Of Ghosts and Gangsters: Capitalist Cultural Production and the Hong Kong Film Industry.” Visual Anthropology Review, v. 28, n. 1, p. 32-49.

2012. (with Bill Maurer) “Accidents of equity and the aesthetics of Chinese offshore incorporation.” American Ethnologist, v. 39, n. 3, p. 527-544.

Book chapters:

2013 “Transformations and Tactics: The Production Culture of the Hong Kong Film Industry.” In Volume 2, “Media Production” of The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies. Editor Vicki Mayer. Wiley-Blackwell.

2012 “Stunt Workers and Spectacle: Ethnography of Physical Risk in Hollywood and Hong Kong.” In Film and Risk. Editor Mette Hjort. Wayne State University Press.

See all publications in HKU Scholars Hub →