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  • Rethinking the Hong Kong Cultural Identity

Rethinking the Hong Kong Cultural Identity

The Case of Rural Ethnicities

Ho-fung Hung

English , 1998/01 HKIAPS, Occasional Paper Series Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK

Tags: Hong Kong Studies, Cultural Studies

215 x 140 mm , 36pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-962-441-081-5

  • US$4.50

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Rethinking the Hong Kong Cultural Identity: The Case of Rural Ethnicities In the post-war economic boom, an identity of "Hongkongese" corresponding to the consumerist and cosmopolitan way of life has emerged among the Hong Kong Chinese. Though there is a vast literature discerning the distinctive features of such an identity, little has been discussed with regard to the historical process of its formation. The Chinese population in Hong Kong has never been homogenous. It is made up of various ethnic groups, including native villagers and Chinese immigrants of different dialects and geographic origins. How these groups have "melted" together to make a unitary identity of "Hongkongese" should not be taken for granted. In fact, the identity of Hong Kong people has been made in constant negotiation between the local cultures of diversified ethnic groups and the middle class, urban-centric culture. Underlying the negotiation have been the politico-economic processes of colonial state building, industrialization and urbanization which have integrated the livelihoods of different ethnicities into the fabric of an expanding metropolis. The development of the Hong Kong identity should not be examined solely in cultural terms. Trajectories of social, political and economic development have to be taken into account. With a focus on the Tanka and Hakka communities in the New Territories, I argue that the making of the Hong Kong identity is a process full of tensions, predominantly the tensions between the rural and the urban. The tensions have persisted over the decades of economic boom until today and still constitute one of the most essential dynamics in the formation and reproduction of the Hong Kong identity.

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