Hong Kong’s Edward Snowden/Edward Snowden’s Hong Kong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


Edward Snowden’s passage through Hong Kong in June 2013 offered commentators, filmmakers, and journalists an uncanny repetition of the longstanding tropes of “cyberpunk,” which staged dramas of surveillance, paranoia, and information within Asian urban spaces. Clapp shows that accounts of Snowden’s actions persistently reproduced that techno-orientalist gesture. Yet in rereading cyberpunk with Snowden’s quest for asylum in mind, Clapp also discovers that while these texts often framed Hong Kong as a glitzy simulacrum or anarchic redoubt, they also described the city as a site of legalistic, bureaucratic modernity. In this way, it becomes possible to read the rhetoric of diplomats, lawyers, and law enforcement agencies around the Snowden affair alongside canonical postmodern texts to reveal a surprisingly uniform, if paradoxical, image of Hong Kong. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultural conflict in Hong Kong: Angles on a coherent imaginary
EditorsJason S. POLLEY, Vinton W. K. POON, Lian-Hee WEE
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9789811077661
ISBN (Print)9789811077654
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Clapp, J. (2018). Hong Kong’s Edward Snowden/Edward Snowden’s Hong Kong. In J. S. Polley, V. W. K. Poon, & L.-H. Wee (Eds.), Cultural conflict in Hong Kong: Angles on a coherent imaginary (pp. 131-148). Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan.


  • Edward Snowden
  • Cyberpunk
  • Techno-orientalism
  • Surveillance
  • Bureaucracy


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