What lies within: misrecognition and the uncanny in Hong Kong’s cityscape
Abstract 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. In this article, I suggest that Hong Kong’s unique attainment of postcoloniality and the evolution of her subsequent complicated relationship with Mainland China, 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. By analyzing the portrayal of Tin Shui Wai, a marginal and isolated area of development in Hong Kong, and the contrasting depiction of public and private spaces 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. In the concluding section of the article, I use Kristevian theories of abjection and the spatialization of identity to argue that the figure of Ling, the Mainland mother in Hui’s film, brings to the fore Hong Kong’s anxiety about its postcolonial identity and relationship with China. She epitomizes the othered self, the return of the repressed, the foreigner who must necessarily be expelled (through murder) from within the nationspace of Hong Kong.
Keywords:Tin Shui Wai, Night and Fog, Ann Hui, Hong Kong cityscape, uncanny, postcolonial, space
Dr. Bidisha Banerjee is Assistant Professor of English at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. She has a M.A. in English from Claremont Graduate University and a Phd from the University of Iowa. Bidisha’s research and teaching interests include postcolonial studies, globality and transnationalism, diaspora and exile, postcolonial feminist fictions and theory and cultural studies. Some of her work on Indian diasporic fiction and film has appeared in journals like Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Asian Cinema and Postcolonial Text. She has recently developed an interest in urban studies, particularly the Hong Kong cityscape.