The essays in this collection showcase Dr. Topley's groundbreaking contributions in several areas of scholarship. These include "Chinese Women's Vegetarian Houses in Singapore" (1954) and "The Great Way of Former Heaven: A Group of Chinese Secret Religious Sects" (1963), both important research on the study of subcultural groups in a complex urban society; "Marriage Resistance in Rural Kwangtung" (1978), now a classic in Chinese anthropology and women's studies; her widely known and cited article, "Cosmic Antagonisms: A Mother-Child Syndrome" (1974), which investigates widely shared everyday practices and cosmological explanations that Cantonese mothers invoked when they encountered difficulties in child-rearing; and "Capital, Saving and Credit among Indigenous Rice Farmers and Immigrant Vegetable Farmers in Hong Kong's New Territories" (2004 ).
One of the pillars of Dr. Topley's intellectual life and contribution in Hong Kong undoubtedly was her involvement in the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. She played a major role in the revival of the society in 1959 and helped create a vibrant organization that forms a bridge between scholarly researchers and a wider public including policymakers and members of the city's business community. Dr. Topley served as the branch's vice-president from 1966 to 1972 and as its president from 1972 to 1983.
Dr. Marjorie Topley passed away in December 2010 at her home in England.
Jean DeBernardi is a professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta, Canada. Her areas of specialization include Chinese in Southeast Asia; the anthropology of religion; and ethnicity, nationalism, and transnationalism. She has conducted extensive ethnographic research on Chinese popular religion in Malaysia and Singapore, and her publications include Rites of Belonging: Memory, Modernity and Identity in a Malaysian Chinese Community (2004) and The Way that Lives in the Heart: Chinese Popular Religion and Spirit Mediums in Penang, Malaysia (2006).
"Marjorie Topley pioneered research into areas of traditional Chinese culture that remain significant today. Some of these papers have been unavailable for many years, and the whole collection is impressive in its originality and breadth of coverage. The numerous photographs are a superb bonus." — Hugh Baker, Professor Emeritus, SOAS, University of London