Hong Kong

Culture and the Politics of Disappearance


Ackbar Abbas

ISBN : 978-962-209-433-8

Cultural Studies, Gender Studies

May 1997

164 pages, 6″ x 9″

For sale in Asia (except Japan), Australia, and New Zealand only

  • HK$150.00

The culture of Hong Kong encompasses Jackie Chan and John Woo, British colonial architecture and postmodern skyscrapers. Ironically, it was not until they were faced with the imposition of Mainland power—with the signing of the Sino-British Joint Agreement in 1984—that the denizens of the colony began the search for a Hong Kong identity. According to Abbas, Hong Kong’s peculiar lack of identity is due to its status as “not so much a place as a space of transit,” whose residents think of themselves as transients and migrants on their way from China to somewhere else. In this intriguing and provocative exploration of its cinema, architecture, photography, and literature, Ackbar Abbas considers what Hong Kong, with its unique relations to decolonization and disappearance, can teach us about the future of both the colonial city and the global city.

Ackbar Abbas is now honorary professor in comparative literature at the University of Hong Kong.

“This is a rich and thought-provoking book which tries to capture a complex historical, cultural, and political postcolonial situation in the unique metropolis of contemporary Hong Kong.” —Mayfair Yang, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Hong Kong has no precolonial past, only a colonial present and always the imminence of its disappearance. Ackbar Abbas’s extraordinary account centers on these junctures and becomes an examinations of culture in a space of disappearance. Hong Kong’s, then, is a particular form of presence, one which illuminates for us the elusiveness of colonial space. [Abbas] does this by dissecting Hong Kong’s architecture, cinema, and writing to show us something about the question of subjectivity and the relation of disappearance to speed.” —Saskia Sassen, author of The Global City