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Title: Representing Hong Kong in a Borrowed Tongue The Cultural Identity Crisis in Anglophone Hong Kong Literature
Author: Wong, Catherine Yuen Wing
ISNI:       0000 0004 2670 6984
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2008
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A.L. McLeod's comment on the literature of Hong Kong, a former Commonwealth colony of Britain, represents the consensus that Hong Kong has 'produced no literature'. Also pertinent is his view that Hong Kong has 'no sense of national identity, no cause to follow, no common goal'. The Handover in 1997 represented a new era for Hong Kong as it came under a new sovereign with a new identity. It is now time to rethink the relevance of McLeod's assertion, made some four decades ago. Hong Kong has long been regarded as a 'cultural desert', which is not a favorable environment to create any impetus to cultivate development in culture and arts. However, following reunification with China, Hong Kong is now permeated by a Chinese national identity that is less ambiguous and more legitimate than its former colonial counterpart. Decolonisation has, without a shadow of doubt, provided all Hongkongers with a 'common goal' to anticipate, inducing them to question whether recent history has given Hong Kong a new identity; and, whether there are incentives for claiming it. However, the key question is whether present day Hong Kong has given inspiration and 'calligraphic ink' for Hong Kong literature; in particular, how Hong Kong's new identity has been reflected in literary works. This research relates postcolonial thinking to literature emanating from Hong Kong, its thrust is to dissect and explore the implicit meanings evident in the use of the English language by native Hong Kong writers as they expound the identity of Hong Kong. Does Anglophone writing in these instances express the identity of Hong Kong? Addressing the writings of Hong Kong native Xu Xi (writer of Hong Kong Rose), Agnes Lam (Woman to Woman and Other Poems) and Louise Ho (New Ends, Old Beginnings), the research also considers how such adaptations result collaterally in cultural displacements, diasporic experience and a linguistic identity crisis, which leads to the .consideration of whether a uniquely Hong Kong cultural identity may be said to emerge ex post facto from the postcolonial situation, or whether a hybrid identity existed prior to the political upheaval of 1997. The earlier part of the thesis focuses on the investigation of subjects' nostalgic feelings towards their past. Chapter one provides a general overview of the political situation of Hong Kong that gave rise to a special cultural phenomenon which this thesis examines: the special nostalgia in Hong Kong's memory is due to its unique political situation. It discusses the presentation and the perspective on time taken by the three writers. Identifying Xu Xi as idealistic, Agnes Lam as individualistic and Louise Ho as skeptical, this thesis further consider how these different writers deal with the postcolonial experiences of their time in the perception and construction oftheir identity. One of the major focuses of this thesis is the notion of a postcolonial time sense, that is, the perplexing competition between the time and memory of the coloniser and that of the colonised. The focus of this research then turns to language. Pursuing the idea that language creates a voice and an identity, this thesis considers how these three writers deal with the various languages current in Hong Kong and their opinion on languages which empower and disempower them. The capacity of language to marginalise is one of the focuses of discussion. The study of marginal identity will be revisited in the last chapter and the angle will change to bring into view the marginality that is brought about by space. Another primary area of analysis in this thesis is postcolonial geography. Following on from the discussion of nostalgia, the analysis of this feeling of inertia will extend from time to space and in an examination of the significance of 'homeland' in these postcolonial works. In its conclusion, the thesis explores the procedures which these writers have adopted in constructing a postcolonial identity for Hong Kong by examining their dealings with the displacement brought by migration, colonisation and globalisation, together with the attempted transcendence of physical distance and psychological boundaries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available