Hong Kong

Abbas, Ackbar

In an 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.

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.

Abbas explores the way Hong Kong’s media saturation changes its people’s experience of space so that it becomes abstract, dominated by signs and images that dispel memory, history, and presence.

Includes discussion of certain Hong Kong films, as though to position Hong Kong cinema as the latest in line of those national cinemas discussed by Deleuze in Cinema 2 to have experienced a mutation of form towards the time-image. Director Wong Kar-wai is discussed in this respect.

Abbas, Ackbar, Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.