[Call for Abstracts] The Neighbourhood—A HKS Symposium


While the word “community” is more often than not suffused with a benevolent glow, connoting the virtues purportedly associated with groups of people—shared values and heritage, constancy and solidarity—“neighbourhood” is a term that has a more ambiguous, even troublesome, valency. Neighbourhoods, depending on one’s point of view, can be good or bad, welcoming or hostile, safe or dangerous, dull or vibrant. They can also, in both their physical and figurative senses, change over time, beset by vagaries, be they sociological, geographical, political, moral or even psychological.
These changes can be existential—neighbourhoods come and go, they die out or are subsumed into larger ones, or are supplanted by newer geographical collectivities. Neighbourhoods are sometimes strictly demarcated from others—most often on economic lines, but also on racial or linguistic ones. They can be coterminous with communities or straddle multiple ones. The division between one neighbourhood and another can also be undefined but clearly perceptible. Neighbourhoods may also contain within them their own faultlines; one’s neighbours might be accepted and tolerated but kept forever at arm’s length. Neighbours who keep their distance from one another, who, in Robert Frost’s words, believe, good fences make good neighbours. This can be a vector for either exclusion as much as inclusion; while being “neighbourly” is an undeniably positive trait, there are many people who, in explicit or unspoken ways, do not desire certain groups or types of people as neighbours. Sometimes the undesired object is not personal, but rather and institution or a facility, giving rise to the acronym “Nimbyism”, from “not in my back yard”.
We welcome papers exploring the manifold ways in which neighbourhoods, neighbours and the idea of the neighbourhood are treated in narratives (both popular and literary), visual art, popular culture, media, government policy, public discourse, theoretical systems, and more. Possible fields for exploration include (but are not limited to) Hong Kong’s gai fongs and their role in the popular imagination; literary portrayals of neighbourhoods, fictional and non-fictional; childhood memoirs; immigrant narratives; gentrification; loneliness and community; street art; film representations; travel writing; class relations; the culinary heritage of neighbourhoods; the neighbourhood in rural culture; buildings as neighbourhoods; the evolution of Hong Kong neighbourhoods; the neighbourhood and political protest; the poetics of the neighbourhood; news reporting; mapping neighbourhoods; the influence of technology and the internet on perceptions of the neighbourhood; international relations and the concept of regional neighbourhoods.
Tammy Lai-Ming Ho, Michael O’Sullivan, Eddie Tay and Michael Tsang
Abstract Submissions:
Please send 250-word abstracts (for 15-20 minutes presentations) by Friday 15 March 2019 to Tammy Lai-Ming Ho at tammyh@hkbu.edu.hk for consideration.

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