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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Reinventing “Nature”: A Study of Ecotopian and Cultural Imaginaries in Post-2008 Hong Kong Literature and Cinema


Prof. Winnie L. M. Yee (University of Hong Kong)

Date and Time

November 19, 2020, 2 - 4 pm


While Hong Kong’s post-colonial identity has yet to be defined, it is clear that its destiny is strongly tied to the numerous movements and protests that have taken place since 1997. A conscious ecocritical turn – a return to land and nature and farming activities – is one of the developments in the post-handover period. It operates as a means to overturn the colonial discourse and to imagine Hong Kong apart from its economic identity. Using Fredie Ho-lun Chan’s two documentaries, The Way of Paddy (2012) and Open Road after Harvest (2015), and a recent edited volume about plants Ziyou ru lü (Freedom in Green, 2018), as examples, this talk explores the significance of social movements intent on reimagining the relationship between the land, nature and the Hong Kong people. The ecological and utopian visions in Chan’s films and the writers’ narratives are not meant to be seen as an unreachable ideal but as a critique of the defects of the current system. This talk argues the literary experiments and in the progression from the first documentary of Chan to the second, we witness an awakening on the part of the writers and the filmmaker, one that is emblematic of the wider Hong Kong community. It will show that the ecocritical turn in Hong Kong literature and independent cinema has opened a new space for Hong Kong’s post-colonial identity. Taken together, these examples provide a full articulation of the nature of sustainability, both personal and collective, micro and macro, and corporeal and affective.


The presentation will be given via ZOOM.


Institute of Asian Oriental Studies - Chinese Studies