The vanishing villages of Hong Kong: A visual cultural pilot study

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Twenty years after its 1997 handover back to China Hong Kong remains a unique place on the world’s stage. British colonialism has left many enduring marks on Hong Kong identity as well as on its physical landscape. One of the most peculiar, and controversial, is the legacy of the Small House Policy of the New Territories; an agreement reached between the British and the village leaders after it leased the New Territories in 1898. In a city of severe land scarcity, this unusual law grants decedents of “original villager’s” families (mainly Hakka people), upon their 18 birthday, rights to build a maximum three story house of no more than 2100 sqft. With skyrocketing housing prices downtown this has created a boom of these “village houses” being build and sold, mainly to “new villagers” migrating from the city, on lands that once were Hong Kong’s farms and rice paddies. This has led to rapid changes in the visuality of these once traditional villages. Most notable is the disappearance of the traditional Hakka ancestral family homes. This visually driven study employs both audio and visual methods to seek a more in-depth picture of current village life in New Territories, Hong Kong by observing, documenting, collaboratively creating, and jointly analyzing the multimedia data captured. This study documents the derelict, intact, restored, in ruin structures and environment, attempting to trace revitalized elements of traditional Chinese-Hakka villages via their design, layouts, and relationship with the natural environment. The study looks at how the making and sharing of imagery can foster dialogue and analysis of the current state of flux of these villages, its land and reconsider the “place” they occupy. This presentation will provide an overview of this unique situation and showcase the preliminary visual research of a pilot study now underway. Copyright © 2019 InSEA.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
EventInSEA 2019 World Congress - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 09 Jul 201913 Jul 2019


ConferenceInSEA 2019 World Congress


McMaster, S. (2019, July). The vanishing villages of Hong Kong: A visual cultural pilot study. Paper presented at the InSEA 2019 World Congress: Making: How is making understood across all dimensions of art education in the 21st century? The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


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