Hong Kong, hospitality, and the culture of total information awareness

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Despite the prominence of Japan in recent and contemporary techno-oriental discourses, some authors have specifically referred to Hong Kong to retrieve somewhat different senses of our global future. In particular, writers like Neil Stephenson, in Snow Crash (1992), and William Gibson, in Idoru (1996) and both imagined Hong Kong as a place of refuge, a domain of asylum which functions to preserve values of hospitality and trust in the context of pervasive insecurity and surveillance. This set of ideas about Hong Kong made a surprising reappearance in 2013, when Edward Snowden chose Hong Kong to stage his disclosures about pervasive U.S.-led security practices. In this paper, I track the image of techno-oriental Hong Kong forward from its representation in nineties cyberpunk, to the immediately contemporary moment, examining nonfiction treatments of Snowden’s time in Hong Kong, including Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files (2014) and Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide (2014), alongside the Laura Poitras documentary Citizenfour (2014). In conclusion, I retrace the historical trajectory from the 1990s to today, revisiting Jacques Derrida’s remarks on information technology in Of Hospitality (1997/2000) in light of William Gibson’s most recent novel, The Peripheral (2014).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


Clapp, J. (2015, May). Hong Kong, hospitality, and the culture of total information awareness. Paper presented at the University of Hong Kong: School of English Seminar Series, The University of Hong Kong, China.


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