Mobility as Method

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of an essay by Tong King Lee entitled “Mobility as Method: Distributed Literatures and Semiotic Repertoires” as part of our online series. Too long to post here in its entirety, find below a snippet from the beginning of the essay. The whole essay can be found at:

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Mobility as Method:
Distributed Literatures and Semiotic Repertoires

By Tong King Lee

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March 2019)

Posters of Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love and 2046.

In this essay, I propose mobility as a method for thinking literature as distributed repertoires, using Hong Kong literature as an illustrative case. In speaking of literary mobility, we first need to come to terms with its nominal counterpoint: the situatedness and place-based nature of writing; in the context of Hong Kong, this is encapsulated by the notion of Sinophone Hong Kong literature (Shih 2008). My argument is that the mobile and the situated are not diametrically opposed; rather, they complement each other within a creative dynamic that enables the local and the global to reciprocally articulate each other in diverse semiotic constellations.

The mobility turn in the social sciences, exemplified by the work of John Urry (2007) and Zygmunt Bauman (2000), has led to lines of inquiry that challenge stable structures and linear patterns, privileging instead the themes of movement and fluidity. More recently, Engseng Ho (2017) proposed the idea of mobile societies, suggesting that premodern Asia be conceptualized as Inter-Asia, a transregional axis constituted by networks of connections and circulations among peoples, goods, and ideas. Here mobility as method represents a theoretical attempt to dislodge the isomorphism between state and society, where the former is a territorialized, bounded political entity and the latter a dispersed concept transcending the perimeters of the polity.

Now what if, instead of mobile societies, we conceive of mobile literatures, defined as spectra of creative semiotic resources moving dynamically between and beyond languages, cultures, and bounded territories? What connections and circulations might emerge from such a distributed view of literature? What are the implications of disaggregating literature from society and dispersing its resources to a global scale, and then reaggregating them back into society, in what Engseng Ho (2017) calls an “outside-in” analysis? [click here to read the whole essay]

HK Cinema through a Global Lens MOOC


Registration is now open for the fifth offering of Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, the first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Hong Kong cinema to be produced anywhere in the world.  The online course starts on January 22, 2019. Enjoy the conversation on Hong Kong cinema with internationally-recognized film studies scholars Professor Gina Marchetti and Dr. Aaron Han Joon Magnan-Park from the HKU Department of Comparative Literature and Dr. Stacilee Ford from the HKU Department of History and American Studies Program with the creative assistance of HKU TELI (Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative).

The edX platform hosts Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, which is free of charge on the Internet. Lively and student-centered, this MOOC is appropriate for secondary, tertiary, and lifelong learners from all corners of the globe, who have a good command of the English language. Teachers are welcome and encouraged to adapt various modules and materials for their own classroom or e-learning needs. The course explores globalization through Hong Kong cinema featuring crisp analyses of the actors and filmmakers whose lives and films connect the local Hong Kong scene to global histories, events, and trends. Throughout the six-week course, students will encounter stars including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Maggie Cheung as well as award-winning directors such as John Woo, Mabel Cheung, Andrew Lau, and Wong Kar Wai. Continue reading

Chthonic live streams to HK after visa rejection

Source: Focus Taiwan (12/26/18)
Taiwan band Chthonic live streams to HK after visa rejection
By William Yen

Image taken from

Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) A Taiwanese heavy metal band performed for their fans in Hong Kong by live video streaming a performance Tuesday, after their frontman, a pro-Taiwan independence lawmaker, was denied a work visa to perform in the special administrative region.

Freddy Lim (林昶佐), a legislator from Taiwan’s New Power Party and his band Chthonic jammed over Facebook Live with Canto-pop star Denise Ho on the second to last day of a music festival the band was invited to perform at. Continue reading

latest on Gui Minhai

My two latest publications on the case of the kidnapped Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai:

“Calling the deer a horse: The CCP’s ham-fisted drive to control discourse in Sweden.” Interview with Jichang Lulu, Sinopsis: China in Context and Perspective [Prague, The Czech Republic], 28 november 2018.

Also, in Swedish, “We have to get better at seeing thru the Chinese propaganda machine”):

“Vi måste bli bättre på att genomskåda den kinesiska propagandamaskinen.” Journalisten, 27 november 2018.

Both publications, the interview and the article, discuss the latest developments in the case of Gui Minhai, as well as the Chinese embassy in Sweden campaign to obscure the issue of our kidnapped citizen by way of disinformation, smearing, etc., and how Chinese state propaganda works — so that we can successfully resist it.

Comments always welcome.

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Ma Jian at the HK literary festival

Source: NYT (11/10/)
Ma Jian, Exiled Chinese Novelist, Hails Appearance as Victory for Rights
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Mike Ives

Ma Jian, center, said the totalitarian society George Orwell predicted in “1984” had been “completely and totally” realized in China.CreditCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — An exiled Chinese novelist spoke at a literary festival in Hong Kong on Saturday, two days after his appearance had been briefly canceled in a move that was widely seen as the latest erosion of freedoms in the semiautonomous city.

The writer, Ma Jian, whose appearances at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival were reinstated at the last minute, said the reversal “proves the failure” of self-censorship.

Mr. Ma, a British citizen who lives in exile in London, said on Saturday that a robust literary culture helps to “safeguard the bottom line of our civilization.” Continue reading

Court jails prosecutors over death in custody

Source: SCMP (10/24/18)
China jails former prosecutors over tortured Hong Kong businessman Stephen Lau’s death in custody
Tianjin court hands down tough sentences of up to 15 years for intentional assault, extorting confession by torture and dereliction of duty. Reason for Hong Kong hotel owner’s interrogation still a mystery
By Guo RuiChoi Chi-yuk

Hong Kong businessman Stephen Lau Hei-wing shown in June 2009, leaving the High Court after testifying. A Chinese court has jailed nine former prosecutors over his death in custody last year. Photo: KY Cheng

A Chinese court has jailed nine former prosecutors for up to 15 years over the case of Hong Kong businessman and hotel owner Stephen Lau Hei-wing, who was tortured to death in custody last year.

The Tianjin No 1 Intermediate People’s Court handed down the sentences on Tuesday, giving the nine defendants, most of them from Yanbian prefecture in Jilin province, less than two weeks to appeal the decision.

According to a copy of the verdict seen by the South China Morning Post, lead interrogator Xu Xuezhe was jailed for 15 years and another defendant, Zhou Qingjun, for 11 years for intentional assault. Six others were sentenced to between 15 months and three years behind bars for extorting confession by torture. The ninth defendant, head of the investigation team Zhao Bozhong, was sentenced to four years for dereliction of duty. Continue reading

HK, Zhuhai, Macao bridge opens

Source: NYT (10/23/18)
China Opens Giant Sea Bridge Linking Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland
By Austin Ramzy

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on Monday. The project includes a four-mile tunnel west of Hong Kong’s airport.CreditCreditKin Cheung/Associated Press

HONG KONG — China officially opened the world’s longest sea bridge on Tuesday after China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and local officials inaugurated the 34-mile structure, which crosses the Pearl River Delta to link Hong Kong with Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai.

The project, which includes sections of bridge and artificial islands linked by a four-mile tunnel west of Hong Kong’s airport, went billions of dollars over budget and was delayed by two years. Chinese officials expect the bridge to significantly cut driving time between the two sides of the Pearl River, helping to achieve their vision of a Greater Bay Area, as China calls the effort to knit the region’s cities more closely. Continue reading

HK education chief waffles on language policy

Source: SCMP (10/9/18)
Hong Kong education chief says he doesn’t want to force schools to teach Mandarin over Cantonese, as critics claim Beijing is trying to control what city’s children learn
Kevin Yeung forced to clarify earlier remarks as backlash against China’s influence over what is taught in city grows
By Kimmy Chung

Kevin Yeung, the Secretary for Eduction, has had to clarify remarks he made suggesting Mandarin should be taught in schools over Cantonese. Photo: Nora Tam 

Hong Kong’s education chief has been forced to clarify twice in two days that he had no intention of forcing schools to teach Mandarin, in what critics say reflected the sensitivity surrounding language in the city.

Kevin Yeung Yun-hung was strongly criticised on Sunday after he suggested experts look into whether Mandarin, which is the official language in mainland China, should be taught instead of Cantonese, which is the dialect spoken in Hong Kong.

Yeung came under fire when he noted, “the future development of Chinese language learning across the globe will rely mainly on Mandarin”. Continue reading

New train blurs line btw China and HK

Source: The Guardian (10/4/18)
‘This is part of the plan’: new train blurs line between China and Hong Kong
The $11bn high-speed Vibrant Express connects Hong Kong with mainland China in 20 minutes for the first time – and the city’s residents are nervous
By Lily Kuo

The Hong Kong and China flags outside the West Kowloon station in Hong Kong.

‘They want us to go to China and work’ … The Hong Kong and China flags outside the newly built West Kowloon station in Hong Kong. Photograph: Jerome Favre/EPA

Inside the newly built West Kowloon terminus, it’s hard to know where Hong Kong stops and China begins.

A restaurant on one floor is technically on Hong Kong soil. Just below it, a duty-free shopping area belongs to neither government. Meanwhile, the VIP lounge one level down from that is Chinese territory.

In the open space of this cavernous train station, you can stand on Hong Kong territory (the ticketing floor) and look down into Chinese territory (the departure hall). Outside the station, the Chinese and Hong Kong flags fly side by side – with the red-and-white Hong Kong flag set slightly lower. Continue reading

PolyU democracy wall row

Source: SCMP (10/2/18)
PolyU democracy wall row escalates as ‘student tears down’ paper covering Hong Kong independence messages
Incident happens a day before deadline in ultimatum to institution given by student union to remove the red paper
By Su Xinqi

The fight over control of a bulletin board at Hong Kong Polytechnic University escalated on Tuesday after a large piece of red paper that management used to cover pro-independence messages was reportedly torn down by a student.

The incident happened a day before the deadline in an ultimatum issued to university staff by the student union and 37 other campus groups. They called for the removal of the red paper by noon on Wednesday.

The board, also known as the democracy wall, was for students to post notices to express their views.

The row started after the union, which manages the wall, relaxed rules on Monday last week, following an unprecedented government ban against the separatist Hong Kong National Party. Continue reading

HK bans pro-independence party

Source: The Guardian (9/23/18)
Hong Kong bans pro-independence party as China tightens grip
Hong Kong National Party banned in the interests of ‘national safety’
Bu Lily Kuo

Pro-democracy activists march against a proposal to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party in July

Pro-democracy activists march against a proposal to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party in July Photograph: Jérôme Favre/EPA

In an unprecedented move, Hong Kong has banned a pro-independence political party, causing outcry among critics who see the measure as another sign of the China’s tightening grip over the city.

On Monday, Hong Kong’s security bureau announced it had upheld a police request to ban the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), a well-known but small group that promotes the city’s independence from China.

“I hereby order that the operation or continued operation of the Hong Kong National Party in Hong Kong to be prohibited,” a notice from the security minister said on a government website. Continue reading

HK cinema MOOC

The “rerun” of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Hong Kong cinema will begin on 11 September 2018 (Tuesday). This is a great opportunity for you to understand Hong Kong cinema’s uniqueness and its continuing impact in transforming other national cinemas.

MOOC description

This pioneering online experience is under the direction of internationally-recognized film studies scholars Professor Gina Marchetti and Dr. Aaron Han Joon Magnan-Park from the HKU Department of Comparative Literature and Dr. Stacilee Ford from the HKU Department of History and American Studies Program with the creative assistance of HKU Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative (TELI).

The course explores globalization through Hong Kong cinema featuring crisp analyses of the actors and filmmakers whose lives and films connect the local Hong Kong scene to global histories, events, and trends. Throughout the six-week course, students will encounter stars including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Maggie Cheung as well as award-winning directors such as John Woo, Mabel Cheung, Andrew Lau, and Wong Kar Wai. Each week a new film showcases talents, themes, and local-global connections. Continue reading

HK moves to crush pro-independence party

Source: SupChina (7/17/18)
Hong Kong moves to crush pro-independence party
By Lucas Niewenhuis

It has been little more than two years since the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party was founded. According to reports today, the Hong Kong government seems intent on making sure it doesn’t live to see two and a half.

  • This morning, police officers visited the home of Andy Chan Ho-tin 陳浩天, the leader of the party, and gave him documents that indicated the government wanted the party “banned from operating using the Societies Ordinance on the grounds of national and public security,” the Hong Kong Free Press reports.
  • The party was then given a 21-day ultimatum by Hong Kong’s security secretary, John Lee, who challenged the party “to justify why it should not be banned,” the Hong Kong Free Press says.
  • Hong Kong’s “Societies Ordinance,” specifically section 8(1)(a), allows the government to break up any group of one or more if it believes that it is “necessary in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
  • This is the first time since 1997 — the year Beijing officially gained sovereignty over Hong Kong — that section 8(1)(a) of the Societies Ordinance has been applied. Pro-democracy camp convener lawmaker Charles Mok noted that the law was intended to crack down on organized crime Triads, and that it was “rather ridiculous” to use it to censor political speech.
  • If the party is banned, a fine of HK$50,000 ($6,370) and two years in prison will be applied to any person who attends meetings of the party or donates money to it.
  • Chan had tried to register the political party in March 2016 when it was founded, but had been rejected by the Companies Registry for “political reasons.” Chan was later himself barred from standing for election in the city, after he refused to renounce his pro-independence position.

Continue reading

Feature on HK lit in Words Without Borders

List members may be interested in a feature on fantastic Hong Kong literature that appears in the latest issue of Words Without Borders:

The full issue can be found here:

Jennifer Feeley

Tiananmen vigil in HK

Source: SCMP (6/4/18)
Tiananmen anniversary vigil in Hong Kong: event organiser Albert Ho gives eulogy declaring ‘ruthless regime will not last forever’
‘The wounds have not healed, the blood has not dried … and justice has not been upheld,’ says chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China
By Tony Cheung Kimmy Chung

All six soccer pitches at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay have been filled by attendees at the June 4 candlelight vigil. Photo: Winson Wong

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown with organisers of an annual candlelight vigil vowing not to stop calling for an end to one-party rule in mainland China.

The vigil is the only large-scale public gathering in China to remember the crackdown on June 4, 1989, that brought an abrupt end to a pro-democracy movement in the heart of Beijing. Many activists, including students and civilians, died. Though the death toll may never be known, hundreds, maybe more than 1,000, were killed.

While large crowds are still drawn to the event, attendance has dwindled in recent years. Organisers are estimating a turnout of 100,000 to 150,000 this time, despite a boycott by university student unions for the fourth year in a row. Follow the latest below: Continue reading