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Lecture 13

EAS273H1 Lecture 13: Hong Kong: Global Capitalism

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University of Toronto St. George
East Asian Studies
Yanfei Li

EAS273 Lecture 13 Hong Kong: At the cross-fire of postcolonialism, decolonization, global capitalism • 1984: 100 year “lease” ended: lease as a form of British imperial policy with China o open the treaty ports and established unequal exchange o the government was thin: not a lot of troops or police force to control the city • City of transcients, a doorway or a in between or intersection of temporalities o where the British empire can connect to Asia/Southeast and Pacific ring o also opens up to other parts of the world • City of Decadent: energy and vitality was channeled into one direction: economic self up to 1984 o channeled to economic actions o cultural actions were channeled into cultural industries • Colonial twist with British and China: colonial past with political subordination to British ruling now considered more advanced than the new Chinese state (education, technology, international access) o colonial past as the result of the war o also the fear and confusion of unknown future o at the time, China was more backward than HK • Postcoloniality preceded decolonization o trend of decolonization has cultural and political impact o in HK, decolonization was downplay because mainland China and Taiwan were sovereign nations Postcolonialism, sense of belonging and politics of disappearance • Post-colonialism: Ways of dealing with ethnicity, racialism and cultural difference society has a bigger weight in the globalized world today o civilization o most people wouldn’t think they have equal status but European internal structure is the reason why it leads to advancement today o internal inherited organization in China hindered their progress • Disappearance is always already gone • the colonial memories helped envision and concealing the reality of change, the past and the future o freedom, or commercial opportunities that HK may never have o for example, people don’t think HK can generate a positive impact on mainland China o hostile politics emerged first and becomes the dominant form of the relationship between HK and mainland at the political and social level o the HK mainlanders feel hostility • Ethnic bond of HK and China disappeared: the evil of colonialism disappeared, replaced by benign images of colonial history, such as modernity, freedom or cosmopolitanism, colonial city become a global form of world cities, a forerunner of capitalism as the old empires end Chungking Mansion • Built 1961, Tsim shat sui, Kowlong • 5 buildings built together [connected] • 17 floors, 4000 residents but a lot of places were rent at a very low rent • attracted the poorer people not the state • Haven of ethnic minorities o Southeast Asians o Middle Eastern o Nigerians o Europeans o East Asian minorities • Largest # of guesthouses and numerous shops and eateries o curry, African bistros, clothing, foreign currency • It tries to rediscover local HK history • HK is returned to the nation that is homogenous hope • this mansion is one of the most unique urban space in HK because it is a space for global minorities o these minorities were not benefitting from global capitalism but they are the marginal of both globalism and capitalism but this is a place they can call refuge • All buildings are sort of connected together but it’s mysterious o the roof are painted different colours • Main commercial places: wider road but some are narrow • A space of globalization? o illegal business going on o Global urban system: real estates (insurance), urban regulations (present ID or huko), educational priorities (to find a job you need the education certificate) ▪ space has become real estate –heavily invested by foreign capital ▪ real estate is the dominant form of the entire city in modern times that when lower migrants come, they don’t have much space of their own o Beyond the system: space is more open to economic, cultural and political participations as there are chances of survival and small business for petty individuals, refugees and the poor ▪ economic and cultural participation is often more open because there are different languages written inside the mansion [e.g., Islamic words] ▪ city hall only have English ▪ what language can be written on urban space –political expression is implied • e.g., law that multiple language coexists in one place ▪ can be called space of possibilities o Space of possibilities: compare to Lao Dao’s story ▪ Lao Dao’s space is deprived of possibilities [folding Beijing] ▪ he’s there just to survive but not communicative possibilities ▪ in the mansion, one person can learn and speak several languages o Chungking express: le
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