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The University of Hong Kong
Islanding Hong Kong

In this talk I will show and discuss a selection of recent work by Hong Kong artists (ink, photography, video, installation) that captures Hong Kong’s shifting island environment and experience. Approaching this work from an island studies perspective (an interdisciplinary approach to understanding islands “on their own terms”), I will try to situate and appreciate it in relation to the sense of islandness that has historically dominated Hong Kong’s development and identity. Whereas the conventional narrative of Hong Kong’s transformation into an island city may have privileged the land/water and island/mainland relationships that conceptually define the space of islands, I will suggest that these artworks bring into view island-to-island relationships that have typically been overlooked by metropolitan perceptions but are perhaps most significant to the lives of islanders. Noting that Hong Kong’s integration/participation in the Greater Bay Area will be constrained by its traditional role as a regional gateway, I will try to argue that the islanding imaginations represented in these artworks make important contributions to a hesitantly evolving planning vision that pays attention to Hong Kong’s island geography and vernacular culture.


Otto Heim has been teaching English literary studies at the University of Hong Kong since 2001. His interest in island studies evolved from research on indigenous and postcolonial literature and culture in Oceania. He has served on the editorial boards of the Island Studies Journal, Shima, and Urban Island Studies and has co-organized several island-themed international conferences at HKU. He is currently the director of the full-time MA in English Studies programme in the School of English.

Zoom Details

Zoom Link: https://hku.zoom.us/j/99179169795?pwd=VU44V2loUHdlZ0UvWXU4b0Q2bEo5Zz09

Meeting ID: 991 7916 9795
Password: 655663