Theorizing “Empire” and World Order in the Ethnography of China’s Geopolitical Edges [Part 2]
1: Situating Vernacular Cosmopolitanism among Young Farmers in Post-colonial Hong Kong
Saturday, March 26, 2022
12:30pm – 2:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
National Chengchi University, Taiwan (Republic of China)
Cosmopolitanism has been associated with the agenda of Western powers that promote the ideology of multi-culturalism. Along this line, clear-cut and stable boundaries—no matter how they have been challenged—are recycled and reaffirmed to separate the local from others or the homogenized global. Simultaneously, cosmopolitanism is conceived as the privilege of the well-off who possess the capital to travel and learn world cultures. Nevertheless, extensive observations across social classes and cultural backgrounds also point out that this is not necessarily the case. This paper employs cosmopolitanism as an analytical tool to examine the complexity of imagining and manipulating geopolitical relations. It will discuss the contestation about the seemingly static structure between “the oppressed” and the colonial power. More precisely, this paper demonstrates how “Hong Kong people” is open to interpretation as a result of its position changing from a part of the British Empire to a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. This research is based on fieldwork conducted throughout Hong Kong with farmers, farmworkers, students, activists, NGO staff and their international connections. While national identity and local subjectivity have received overwhelmed attention since the 1997 handover, agricultural movements as one response of the younger generation to the current political, social, and economic turbulence has been under-discussed. I argue that border-crossing after 1997, along with frequent trans-local and transcultural interactions left by colonial history, created a reflective process of reconsidering the relationship between the local and the non-local, and what the local means.