Talk: Post-socialism in Hong Kong: Zone Urbanism, Urban Horror, and Post-1997 Hong Kong Cinema
Speaker: Professor Erin Huang (Princeton University)
Date/Time: 28 November 2018 (Wednesday), at 5:00-6:20 p.m.
Venue: Washington Hall 219
The film, directed by the Hong Kong director Fruit Chan (陈果), is called The Midnight After (那夜凌晨，我坐上了旺角開往大埔的紅VAN) (2014).
Trailer (2 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoooAUiQqy0
This talk examines the condition of Chinese “(post-)socialism” in Hong Kong—a city without “socialist” legacies—as a way of addressing the emergent history of radical deterritorialization and reterritorialization in the era of the “post.” Proposing “zone urbanism” as a critical lens—a phenomenon of zoning that renders space into a programmable and reproducible spatial software—the presentation traces Hong Kong’s infrastructural revolution since the early 1980s that intimately connects the city to special economic zones in mainland China. From the controversial construction of New Hong Kong Airport to expressways, tunnels, and bridges designed to enhance the speed of movement in South China’s economic circles, “(post-)socialist” Hong Kong is arguably transformed into Southeast Asia’s transport super city and logistics hub. While recent scholarships on Hong Kong highlight the Umbrella Revolution in 2014 as the city’s protest against its loss of political sovereignty, this presentation probes a longer history of zone urbanism and traces the emergent aesthetics of infrastructural phenomenology in post-handover Hong Kong cinema. Problematizing the relationship between “Hong Kong” as a planned abstract space of transit and as a corporeal space under tremendous pressure to accommodate its human population, post-1997 Hong Kong cinema suggests a number of ways for re-experiencing, re-sensing, and touching the city’s infrastructural space while producing a plethora of experiences on the widening spectrum of movement and displacement. While focusing on the zoning phenomenon in South China, the talk theorizes (post-)socialism as a universalizing condition with regional differences that is creating new centers and peripheries.
Erin Y. Huang is Assistant Professor in East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar and a comparatist working on modern China and Sinophone studies. Her research interests broadly include cinema & media studies, Marxist urban theory, gender & sexuality studies, comparative socialisms and post-socialisms, and phenomenology. She is completing her first book, Urban Horror: Global Post-socialism, Chinese Cinemas, and the Limits of Visibility, where she theorizes urban horror as Marxist phenomenology, and an emergent horizon of affects that rehearses the potentiality of future urban revolutions after the supposed end of revolutionary times.
Princeton University professor lectures on Hong Kong post-socialism, cinema