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Hakka Scholars Network

Hakka Scholars Network

“Hakka 客家 is a subgroup of the Han Chinese with a distinct culture. Their historic villages were circular fortresses built with very thick walls for defense. Hakka women were known for their unbound feet, strength and resilience. The Hakkas have contributed globally over centuries, and many have risen to prominence at home and in their countries of adoption, a fact that is not widely known. As a Hakka descendant on my mother’s side, it is of great interest to me to support scholarly research on this group.” 

-- The Honourable Dr Vivienne Poy

The Hakka Scholars Network includes an ambitious plan for eight research and teaching initiatives that the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) and its York-based and external partners, hope to develop incrementally over the next 10 years.

The Network was initiated by a $500,000 donation to YCAR from the Honourable Dr Vivienne Poy to create an endowment to support student engagement in Hakka research and scholarship. The donation was also announced in Yfile.

These initiatives include:

Vivienne Poy Hakka Graduate Research Award 
The award will support graduate-level research on any topic related to the study of Hakka culture, language and history. The inaugural award will be given out in Fall 2020 

Summer “Study Abroad” course 
This opportunity is intended to help bring York University undergraduate-level students to a part of the world where they will learn and experience aspects of Hakka cultures, histories and geographies. This course is under development and we anticipate the first offering for summer 2022.

Disseminating Hakka Research
Funds are set aside to support academic conferences, workshops and lectures that will bring together Hakka Scholars at York Network and the Hakka community in Toronto and further afield to disseminate and share the latest knowledge and research in Hakka studies. We are pleased to partner with the New York Hakka Conference team in these efforts.

We also hope to develop the following programmes and initiatives through future donations:

  • Undergraduate Hakka Scholars programme: This programme will allow us to bring students interested in Hakka studies in or outside Canada to York University to complete an undergraduate degree in a program of their choice (noting that entrants will need to meet all York entrance criteria/ standards).
  • Hakka Academic Programme: This would allow for the development of an endowed faculty position—Hakka Academic Chair—for either a senior or early-career scholar in Hakka Studies or establish a Hakka Research Chair or Distinguished Visiting Chair (or Visiting Chair).
  • Hakka Language Training Programme
  • Hakka Diaspora Virtual Archive Programme
  • Hakka Office for Research & Education

The Hakka Scholars Network is led by a committee that will help formulate strategic directions, facilitate outreach to various segments of Hakka communities as applicable and explore further fundraising possibilities to advance and strengthen the initiative. The 2020–22 committee members are:

  • Lily Cho (Associate Dean for Global & Community Engagement, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies)
  • Abidin Kusno (Faculty of Environmental Studies; Director, YCAR)
  • Keith Lowe (co-founder, Toronto Hakka Conference; Hakka scholar)
  • Cary Wu (Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies)

Although Hakka studies at York may be in a nascent phase, there is a long association between the university and Hakka scholars and community members. The first Toronto Hakka Conference was held at York University in 2000 and YCAR will co-host the sixth edition on Keele Campus, which was recently rescheduled to July 2021.

For more information or to support Hakka studies and research at York University, please contact us at