Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance

cover of Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance

On June 30, 1997, Hong Kong as we knew disappeared, ceased its singular and ambiguous existence as a colonial holdover and became part of the People’s Republic of China. In an exploration of its cinema, architecture, photography, and literature, Ackbar Abbas considers what Hong Kong, with its unique relations to decolonization and disappearance, can teach us about the future of both the colonial city and the global city. The culture of Hong Kong encompasses Jackie Chan and John Woo, and postmodern skyscrapers. According to Abbas, Hong Kong’s peculiar lack of identity is due to its status “not so much a place as a space of transit”, whose residents think of themselves as transients and migrants on their way from China to somewhere else. Abbas explores the way that Hong Kong’s media saturation changes its people’s experience of space so that it becomes abstract, dominated by signs and images that dispel memory, history, and presence. Hong Kong disappears through simple dualities such as East/West and tradition/modernity. What is missing from a view of Hong Kong as merely a colony is the paradox that Hong Kong has benefitted and made a virtue of its dependent colonial status, turning itself into a global and financial city and outstripping its colonizer in terms of wealth. Combining theory and a critical perspective, this work captures the complex situation of the metropolis that is contemporary Hong Kong. Ackbar Abbas is a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong. This book is intended for students and researchers working in Asian and cultural studies.