Ecologies of Comparison: An Ethnography of Endangerment in Hong Kong

Volume 07, Issue 4

Hong Kong is awash in comparison. In the past two decades, the anxiety over its identity has been largely perpetuated by various reference points. As soon as Hong Kong began to develop its metropolitan image out of colonial modernity in comparison with its geopolitical other, "Mainland China," in the late 1970s, it encountered the political uncertainty over its return to Chinese sovereignty in the following decades. At the same time Hong Kong people began to take pride in being one of the Four Asian Tigers or Dragons. Tim Choy's discussion on "anticipatory nostalgia" and the politics of endangerment sharply captures the structure of feeling of this city at the turn of the century (28). The last two decades have witnessed how various forms of life in Hong Kong, natural and cultural, come to matter as "endangered species." With his strong background knowledge in environmental science, Choy offers a new and useful toolkit for analyzing the identity politics of Hong Kong. For example, he repeatedly draws our attention to "specification." a term frequently used by biologists to differentiate one species from another, and he further digs deeply into its cultural and political implications. This book definitely provides a breath of fresh air to the identity talk of Hong Kong.

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