Society and Identity
This paper seeks to examine the plights of two generations of the Gurkha diaspora in Hong Kong. The Nepalese community in HK had originated from their military services in the British army in the mid-20th century, yet, not all Nepalese relate themselves to this part of the Nepali migration history and not all Gurkha descendants identify equally with the name ‘Gurkha’. The term Gurkha with its contemporary meanings was largely a British construction in the contexts of British colonial rule in Asia. The Gurkha soldiers were no longer in the military service a few years before 1997, the year when HK’s sovereignty returned to China. Most were repatriated to Nepal while some continued their service in the United Kingdom. Many Gurkhas found their way back to HK to join the security guard industry in the mid and late 1990s. This paper explores how the reverse return migration of the Gurkhas has impacted on the livelihood and identity of these ex-servicemen and their children. It will examine why many Gurkhas returned for the search of their own history and the factors leading to the different senses of belonging among the younger Gurkhas. It will contrast the HK and UK Gurkha diasporas and explain why some decided to leave the U.K. for HK. Finally, by employing the concept of ‘hybrid diaspora’, it will delineate the Gurkha diaspora within the larger Nepali diaspora around the world and how these two concepts intertwine to build a supranational migrant community.