What lies within: Misrecognition and the uncanny in Hong Kong’s cityscape

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The city-state of Hong Kong had a unique postcolonial birth in 1997, when it was handed over to the motherland, China, after the expiration of a hundred year lease on Hong Kong held by the British. In this paper, I suggest that Hong Kong’s unique attainment of postcoloniality, and the evolution of her subsequent complicated relationship with Mainland China, leads to a deep sense of anxiety in Hong Kong’s identity as a global city. This anxiety, I further argue, is mapped on to the physical landscape of Hong Kong. By analysing the portrayal of Tin Shui Wai, a marginal and isolated area of development in Hong Kong, and the contrasting depiction of public and private spaces in Ann Hui’s 2009 film Night and Fog, I attempt to explore the Freudian “uncanny,” the return of the repressed, which constantly threatens to erupt. In the concluding section of the paper, I use Kristevian theories of abjection and the spatialization of identity to argue that the figure of Ling, the Mainland mother in Hui’s film, brings to the fore Hong Kong’s anxiety about its postcolonial identity and relationship with China. She epitomizes the othered self, the return of the repressed, the foreigner who must necessarily be expelled (through murder) from within the nation-space of Hong Kong. Copyright © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-537
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number4
Early online dateSept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


Banerjee, B. (2013). What lies within: Misrecognition and the uncanny in Hong Kong’s cityscape. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 14(4), 519–537. doi: 10.1080/14649373.2013.831161


  • Tin Shui Wai
  • Night and Fog
  • Ann Hui
  • Hong Kong cityscape
  • Uncanny
  • Postcolonial
  • Space


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