ARI Working Paper Series
WPS 265 Spectacular Pasts: Visualising History through Material Representations in Hong Kong
Publisher : Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Publication Date : Mar / 2018
Keywords : History, heritage, remembrance, visuality, identity politics, Hong Kong

Since being placed under the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997, Hong Kong has developed a strong interest in remembering its past. But how Hong Kong history is to be articulated and represented in the contemporary city is a subject of contestation between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government and local grassroots actors. Whilst the government promotes a Chinese history positioning the city as a part of the Chinese nation, grassroots actors celebrate ‘local’ history derived primarily its colonial experience to situate the city as apart from the PRC. The paper suggests that material representations of the past influences how the city’s history is experienced and ‘consumed’ by Hong Kong society. It examines and compares the government-run Hong Kong Heritage Museum with the grassroots-managed Hong Kong House of Stories, outlining how disparate narratives of the past are presented to the Hong Kong public through material (and therefore visual) means. Of interest are the infrastructural forms these respective sites assume, and the way physical artefacts are displayed within these spaces. The differing levels of affective attachments exhibited by Hong Kong people towards the histories being promoted at both sites will also be reviewed.