Among greater issues of the day: Hong kong in china, 2003–2013

University of Chicago Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Critical Inquiry, 2020, 46, (3), pp. 666-697
Issue Date:
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The geohistorical disjunctures between Hong Kong—colonial territory, global city, and special administrative region—and China challenge understandings of the relationship. Hong Kong officially maintains certain core values that differ from those of the People’s Republic of China, while unofficial Chinese Communist Party united-front activity in Hong Kong has arguably narrowed the range of the sayable, in Jacques Rancière’s terms, in the public sphere. How does this admixture of core values, at turns antithetical and contested, appear in the space and time of Hong Kong? Interventions in the ideational dynamic between the city and the state—through images, utterances, performances, and alternative artworks—produce space for the appearance of subjects defined by the people. Not a postcolonial culture of disappearance but an ontology of politics where spaces of disagreement make apprehensible that which is politically unsayable. During the decade before the Umbrella Movement, in a fervent aesthetics of politics at the crossroads of hurtling urban transformation and accelerating illiberal governance, alternative art in Hong Kong populated social-movement activity with claims on public space and the possibilities of the people in the sightlines of a democratic future.
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