The writing of competing histories of Hong Kong, with special reference to the perspectives from Britain, Mainland China and Hong Kong
Yuen, K. K. (2003). The writing of competing histories of Hong Kong, with special reference to the perspectives from Britain, Mainland China and Hong Kong (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13985
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13985
The thesis covers the competing perspectives on Hong Kong history, with a special focus on how British colonial historiography and Mainland Chinese patriotic historiography wrote the history of Hong Kong. It is found that the two historiographical discourses had very clear political agenda behind. Post-modernism and post-colonialism are used as methodologies to critique these two discourses. British colonial historiography is shown to be an administrative adjunct to British colonialism, justifying the British claim to rule over the British colonies. Similarly, traditional Chinese historiography is found to be politically conservative, serving to aid the ideological imperatives of bureaucratic administration. Historiography under the CCP is an apparatus for political and social control. The thesis continues to elaborate on how British colonial and Mainland Chinese patriotic historiographies wrote on colonial Hong Kong, covering the whole period from pre-1841 to 1997. The competing historiographies started their debate on whether pre-colonial Hong Kong was a “barren rock” (British discourse) or a “treasure island” (Chinese discourse). The debate ended over the rows about Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997. Detailed and systematic analyses (of the two competing discourses) are reserved for the period 1830-1900. It is found that both sides used evidence favourable to their own discourse and wilfully ignored inconvenient data. The local voice of Hong Kong was originally absent from these competing discourses. Before 1949, the Hong Kong Chinese did not perceive themselves to have a separate political identity or historical consciousness. Marked changes occurred from the 1960s and the Hong Kong Chinese began to see themselves distinct from both Imperial Britain and Mainland China. A generation of local Hong Kong historians emerged in the 1980s who challenged the correctness of the British and Mainland Chinese historiographies. They were no longer prepared to have their opinions stifled. Through their vigorous research, many of the British colonial and Mainland Chinese patriotic “myths” were found to be quite hollow. Gradually a Hong Kong School of historiography has emerged, a healthy sign of Hong Kong's growing intellectual maturity and autonomy.
The University of Waikato
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