The Hi/Stories of Hong Kong


This paper examines the formation of modernity in three colonialist epics of Hong Kong and the recent historical and fictional works that aim to rewrite the history of the ‘local’. Adopting a challenge-response structure, the paper argues that the colonialist epics construct a monolithic discourse of modernity-as-progress via the amnesia of conflicts, tensions, and processes of domination and negotiation in the rural and everyday space of colonial Hong Kong. It is stressed that to piece together the above anomalies is not an attempt to restore a pre-given ‘native’ to but rather an endeavour to examine how the ‘local’ as divergent historical agents shaped and has been shaped by the political, social, and economic environment of Hong Kong and the larger world outside. This can be called a model of dialectics composed of an internal dialectic and a dialectic of articulation. In this regard, with the benefit of the rapprochement of history and anthropology and a non-linear view of history, this paper is a historical bricolage of the anomalous history of Hong Kong, aiming to destabilize the Hong Kong historical grand narrative. Through rethinking the impact of the colonial experience, this paper hopes to liberate alterity and diversity in historical interpretations and imaginations.

Written by Esther M.K. Cheung
Published in Cultural Studies 15(3/4), 2001, pp.564-590.

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