Hong Kong and Elsewhere: A HKS Symposium

Hong Kong Elsewhere

A promotional video for the forthcoming third season of the award-winning TV show Westworld features the Hong Kong protests as the first event in what appears to be a sequence of predictions about the future in the United States, Indonesia, Argentina, France and Russia, leading all the way to 27 February 2058. This use suggests Hong Kong’s ongoing democratic movement is knowledge common enough for an American audience to recognise, as news from Hong Kong has circulated beyond the city and the immediate region.
Though primarily a civil dispute pitting large numbers of Hongkongers against their government and the central government in Beijing, the Hong Kong protests also exist in a wider geopolitical context. They were but one of numerous popular uprisings across the world in 2019, where unrest raged in places as geographically diverse as Lebanon, Chile, Catalonia and Iran. The motive for each uprising was different and few of them were related to one another but people from each place saw echoes of their own experience in the others.
The protests also cast a shadow over Taiwan’s presidential election in January of this year, and jogged the memories of many older people, from Hong Kong and farther afield, of the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. Hong Kong protesters, meanwhile, called on the wider world to come to their help, which resulted in the United States Congress passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
This was a further reminder that Hong Kong, one of the world’s busiest ports, does not exist apart from the rest of the world, nor has it ever done. Ever since it was settled as a colonial outpost, the city has been a hub for immigrants, from mainland China, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the former British Empire, and even Russia, following the 1917 revolution. This mixing of peoples and cultures has had a profound effect on the city, and has informed its own culture, its topography, its history and even its politics.
The city also has a resonance for international trade that extends beyond its status as a free port. “Made in Hong Kong” was a familiar sight on consumer products around the world from the 1960s to the 1980s, while since then the city has been a locus for capital flows in and out of the Greater China region.
The patterns of Hong Kong migration since the 1950s have also given the city a newly forged connection with distant parts as Hong Kong diasporas formed in countries such as Canada, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. In popular culture, two of Hong Kong’s TV channels, TVB and ViuTV, have produced programmes that feature Hong Kong people who have married a foreigner and settled overseas.
This conference, our third, aims to focus on Hong Kong’s relations with places beyond its borders, be they political, social, cultural, culinary, imaginary, or financial. Topics that might be considered for papers are colonial rule, migration, refugees and resettlement, protest and asylum provisions, Hong Kong’s relations with its neighbours and beyond—the mainland, Macau, Taiwan, and further away, Hong Kong food, Hong Kong’s use of common law precedence, architecture, banking, financial crime, literary and cinematic representations of Hong Kong in local and foreign texts.
Date: Saturday 30 May 2020
Venue: The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Organisers: 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 Monday 30 March 2020 to Tammy Lai-Ming Ho at tammyh@hkbu.edu.hk for consideration.
(Photograph by Holden Liang, first published in Cha.)

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