(Re)indigenizing the-dog-as-child in and around Hong Kong urban parks

Mindy BLAISE

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

This paper presents the figure of the-dog-as-child and shows how it offers a useful way to understand situated childhoods. Located in the urban landscape of Hong Kong, I look at three examples of cultural practices around the-dog-as-child, showing how they enact and reshape the colonial pastpresent of Hong Kong childhoods. Feminist, postcolonial, and posthuman perspectives are used to understand the situated, relational, material, and discursive cultural practices of the-dog-as-child in Hong Kong. For example, the situatedness of knowledge (Haraway, 1988) is a key feminist concept and recognizes that all knowledge is partial, situated, and provides views from somewhere. This paper works with knowledge produced historically, in present postcolonial Hong Kong, in and around urban parks, and between humans and more-than-humans. Understanding the situatedness of knowledge also works with a reflexivity that attends to my own entanglement as a researcher within postcolonial power relations. Postcolonial thought is vital for grappling-with Hong Kong’s past and present relationship with British colonialism and how the-dog-as-child cultural practices are twisted and shaped through unique and local (re)indigenized processes. The cultural dimensions of globalization put forth by Appadurai (1996, 2010) through (re)indigenization and pastpresent global flows are used to consider how colonisation works through the-dog-as-child. Local subjectivities, in this case Hong Kong childhoods, become visible through these processes. Using the concept of affect (Ahmed, 2004; Deleuze, 1988), I unearth glimpses about what the dog might stir in the Hong Kong imaginary. Affect allows me to recognize the agency of the dog and my own location within all sorts of power relations. Bringing together feminism, postcolonialism, and posthumanism illuminates the strangely unfamiliar terrain about situated childhoods. This paper draws on a larger multi-site and multispecies ethnography of cultural practices across the urban landscape of Hong Kong. These sites include public urban parks, shopping malls, and dai pai dongs (大排檔, outdoor style Chinese restaurants). In addition to using common ethnographic methods to generate data (participant observations, field notes, audio memos, video recordings, still photographs, and interviews), Haraway’s (2008) feminist-style of tracings were employed to unravel the connections between Hong Kong and British dogs; imperial and postcolonial cultures; and dogs, children, adults, and materials. Several dog-as-child cultural practices were identified (i.e., walking the dog, dressing the dog, and eating with the dog). By tracing these practices across contexts, time, and cultures it becomes possible to see how imported British cultural practices are interrupted and (re)indigenized when they come in contact with the-dog-as-child cultural practices in Hong Kong. Illuminating the-child-as-dog practices in Hong Kong can be thought of as an example of a defamiliarizing strategy (Braidotti, 2013) that makes us aware of the peculiar ways that the-child-as-dog is entangled with childhood. Instead of considering the-child-as-dog practices as insignificant, this paper challenges the field of early childhood to take them seriously and consider what they can teach us about the situatedness of childhood and how they might help set a new posthuman social agenda (Braidotti, 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Citation

Blaise, M. (2014, April). (Re)indigenizing the-dog-as-child in and around Hong Kong urban parks. Paper presented at the 2014 AERA Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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