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

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The citystate 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. Terms like “handover”, “changeover” and “lease” are used only in the Hong Kong context and highlights the unique postcolonial identity of this nation state. Nowhere in the bloody annals of colonial history can we find a more peaceful, bloodless transition from being colonized to becoming postcolonial. With the meteoric rise of China itself since the late 1990s, Hong Kong’s relationship with the motherland has altered and become ever more complicated. The initial economic power and importance of Hong Kong at the time of the handover, has now somewhat faded. In this article, I suggest that Hong Kong’s unique attainment of postcoloniality and the evolution of her subsequent complicated relationship with the Mainland, 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 which has been variously described as “disappearing” (Abbas), “fluid” (Gutierrez and Portefaix), “impressionistic” (Huang) and “spectral” (Cheung). By analyzing the portrayal of Tin Shui Wai, a marginal and isolated area of development in Hong Kong, 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.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


Banerjee, B. (2013, June). What lies within: Misrecognition and the uncanny in Hong Kong’s cityscape. Paper presented at the Eighth International Convention of Asia Scholars, Macao, China.


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