Hong Kong's History: State and Society under Colonial Rule

Hong Kong's History: State and Society under Colonial Rule

Hong Kong's History: State and Society under Colonial Rule

Hong Kong's History: State and Society under Colonial Rule

Synopsis

Drawing together contributions from historians, sociologists and political scientists, the book highlights the role played by a variety of social actors in Hong Kong's history and differs both from recent celebrations of British colonialism and anti-colonial Chinese nationalism. It covers the Chinese collaboration with the colonial regime, legal discrimination and intimidation, rural politics, the ruling elite, social movements, government-business relations, industrial policy, flexible manufacturing and colonial historiography.

Excerpt

This book offers neither a conventional account of the history of colonial administration in Hong Kong nor a linear prescription of Hong Kong's development from a barren fishing port to a modern capitalist metropolis. Rather it sets to unveil aspects of state-society relations that are hitherto obscured in Hong Kong's history.

With the transfer to Chinese rule on 1 July 1997, most recent publications on Hong Kong focus on the problem of the transition. A few revisit the historical background leading to the issue of 1997, but typically without questioning the conventional account about the colonial past. The present volume calls into question two underlying assumptions of the dominant scholarship. The first is the one-dimensional view that reduces complex and multi-faceted dimensions of colonial rule to the story of a benevolent colonial state exercising indirect rule over an apathetic society. The second is the static view of colonial rule that slights the agency of such diverse actors as the ruling élite, business classes, compradors, rural interests, social activists, marginalized groups, etc. in shaping colonial rule in Hong Kong.

In response to these problematic assumptions, this book presents an empiri-cally and historically rooted account of state-society relations in the making of colonial Hong Kong that differs from recent celebrations of British colonialism and anti-colonial Chinese nationalism. By highlighting the roles played by a variety of social actors in their struggle for domination, manipulation of conflicts, and collaboration and compromise, the present volume seeks to appraise Hong Kong history from the 'bottom up'.

The idea for this project came originally from my informal discussions with colleagues from Hong Kong about the possibility of organizing a workshop to discuss some missing gaps in the current account of Hong Kong's history and development. With the encouraging support of the Documentation and Research Centre for Contemporary China, a workshop was convened at Leiden University in August 1996. The initiative received a warm response from colleagues who shared the dissatisfaction with the conventional account on Hong Kong history.

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