From their historical relationship to their contemporary status as leaders of global finance capital to the challenges of Brexit and reunification, the pairing of Hong Kong and London offers ideal ground for examining the rights to the city in the present. Taking advantage of King's College London's partnership with HKU, this course will enable students to seek commonalities and solutions by reading about, researching and engaging with each other's environment. The parallax views created by a joint HKU/KCL course will provide students with a unique opportunity to grasp the specific ways in which global dynamics coalesce in the cultural politics of different locales. By bringing together literature and other forms of urban culture -- for example, stand-up comedy, underground music and street art -- 'The Right to the City' will help students to trace the role that cultural forms play in mediating struggles for urban justice.
We will look at a range of literature, film, and music produced in London and Hong Kong to account for the complex causes of city-specific issues, such as access to public housing, ghettoization, corporate control, and gendering and racializing along the public/private divide.
- To enable students not able to study abroad to have a rich and exciting international learning experience, by enabling them to work with student counterparts in the English department at HKU; be co-taught remotely by the partner instructor at HKU; and share knowledge with and learn from the HKU students in online discussion groups
- To enable students to identify, develop, historicise and formalise their direct experience of London cultural politics; to share that knowledge with HKU students; and to learn from Hong Kong students who will engage in the same process
- To help students in both locations grasp abstract and theoretical approaches to cultural politics by reading urban cultural theory and history of both locations; studying film, literature and other art forms produced in and about both locations; and documenting aspects of the city via individual interactive projects.
By the end of the module the student will be able to:
- Analyse cultural objects and phenomenon in Hong Kong and London within historical, political and aesthetic contexts
- Demonstrate knowledge of a range of theoretical approaches to contemporary urban culture
- Summarise and connect key features of cultural history of London and Hong Kong around key, relevant dates
- Compare specific instances of aesthetic politics and cultural contestation in Hong Kong and London
- Articulate his/her ideas within a seminar environment and in online forums where HKU and KCL students will engage in discussion
In addition to regular classroom discussions and lectures, there will be an emphasis on learning via student interaction across institutions and direct engagement with the urban environment. Students from KCL and HKU will come together in online discussion groups to share knowledge of their respective cities. Other assignments might include selecting, visiting and documenting a feature of students’ milieu related to an issue discussed in seminar, or collectively creating and sharing geo-tagged maps of the two cities that include students’ hands-on research.
1 x 3000-word essay (30%)
2 x 500-word response papers (25%)
1 x documentary project (20%)
Reading may include:
David Harvey, The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space
Akbar Abbas, Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance
Joe Cornish, dir. Attack the Block. Film 4, 2011.
Fruit Chan, dir. The Midnight After, 2014
Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)
Xi Xi, My City: A Hong Kong Story (1993)
Naoise Dolan, Exciting Times (2020)