Annual YCAR lecture commemorates esteemed Hong Kong historian, Bernard Luk

The late Professor Bernard HK Luk (History) was a central figure forging new directions in international research on Hong Kong. His legacy in shaping the emerging field of Hong Kong studies will be commemorated annually with the Bernard Luk Memorial Lecture in Hong Kong Studies organized by the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR).

Professor Luk is remembered fondly by his students, colleagues and friends as a dedicated educator and distinguished researcher. He taught at York University’s Department of History for over 20 years.

“He was a born educator who dedicated his life to the teaching of Hong Kong history” said the Honourable Dr Vivienne Poy, a friend and former student of Professor Luk’s. Dr Poy endowed the annual lecture in Professor Luk’s honour.

“The lecture format is a particularly appropriate way of commemorating Professor Luk,” said Philip Kelly, former YCAR Director. “It is a reminder of how he always strived to participate in and create collective spaces for research and teaching.”

Organized by a group of Hong Kong scholars at YCAR, the annual lectures will focus on Hong Kong as a distinct society, its influence on the wider world or the experiences of the Hong Kong diaspora.

“Having originated from Hong Kong myself, it is of great personal interest to me to keep the memory of Professor Luk and the evolution of Hong Kong studies alive” said Dr Poy.

Professor Luk’s dedication to Hong Kong studies remains an enduring tribute to his hometown, said Kelly. Professor Luk understood early on that Hong Kong occupied a unique position in the history of China. His critical research provides a framework for future researchers to understand the complexity of Hong Kong as a former British colony.

From top left: Philip Kelly, Senwung Luk, Abidin Kusno, Susan Henders, Yuk-Lin Renita Wong, Senning Luk, Po King Choi, the Honourable Dr Vivienne Poy, Fatima Lee

Former colleague and friend of Professor Luk’s, Professor Choi Po King, delivered the inaugural Bernard Luk Memorial Lecture earlier this year. Her lecture, Should the Chinese Language be Taught in Putonghua?, explored the nationalist politics and debates around the medium of instruction of the Chinese language in Hong Kong.

Speaking about her choice of lecture topic, Professor Choi said “language has been one of Bernard Luk’s passions, and its links to identity and allegiance all the more so.”

Video of Professor Choi’s lecture is available on YCAR’s YouTube Channel:

Professor Luk authored and co-edited 14 books and numerous articles on Hong Kong, often focusing on education, in both Chinese and English. His last major project, A History of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, was recently published in Chinese.

“I am forever grateful for what I have learnt from him” said Dr Poy.

Professor Luk passed away in March 2017 after suffering a stroke. He is survived by his wife, Fatima Lee and two sons, Senwung and Senning. An obituary co-authored by his colleagues and friends is available at

For more information about the Bernard Luk Memorial Lecture in Hong Kong Studies, visit