Conference Details




The term “risk society” has been coined to explore a new era: in the 21st century we are no longer separated primarily by the production of goods but instead are increasingly united by worldwide exposure to “bads.” Global “bads” put us all together at risk, whether in the form of economic credit bubbles, epidemics such as SARS, or, especially, across the boards, scientific discoveries and potential crises, including climate change and nuclear meltdowns.  Faced with such dangers, we often seek “rescue,” at great risk too, from globally linked institutions, whether world banks, world health organizations or multinational scientific leadership we cannot easily penetrate.

The sentiment of a risk society therefore appears to legitimate calls for stability and (radical) change alike, purporting to minimize hazard and contain threats, while interacting governments consistently fall short of the targets identified to expand basic social protections and avoid calamity. Yet experience tells us that large-scale or top-down solutions can call equally upon the contributions of messiness: namely, trial and error. The seeming and elegant successes of the ‘big picture’ often depend upon the uneasy trial and error of small-scale and local measures, which take time to work out as well as the patience to sustain the condition of uncertainty.

In this symposium, we therefore invite participants to explore the role of risk and uncertainty, trial and error, messiness and elegance in writing, culture and society, at any level and from diverse perspectives. We are particularly interested in contributions that address the role of writing, or literature, in a wider field of weighing short term and long term measures against the global forces of risk that can unite and divide us. What is the relationship between error and inaction, uncertainty and success? What opportunities emerge in working with unpredictability and limited understanding? What is the role of repetition in discovery? How do we learn from mistakes? How do traditions of resourcefulness sustain experimental communities? What is the value of the written-off? How do notions of elegance and messiness guide our apprehension of risk?

We welcome scholarly as well as creative contributions on any aspect of these issues as they appear in literature, culture, society and politics.

The symposium is generously supported by the Faculty of Arts, HKU, under the China-West Strategic Research Theme.

Symposium convenors:

Dr. Page Richards & Dr. Otto Heim
School of English
The University of Hong Kong


Conference Details


June 10 – 12, 2013


The symposium will take place at the University of Hong Kong, in Run Run Shaw Tower on the new Centennial Campus (Monday and Wednesday) and in the Main Building (Tuesday morning). Please find the campus map here.

The easiest access to the Centennial Campus is from the bus stop / taxi drop-off near the West Gate Entrance on Pokfulam Road, via Haking Wong Building. Take the lift to the 5th floor and walk west along University Street. The easiest access to the Main Building is from the bus stop / taxi drop-off at the East Gate Exit on Bonham Road.

For catering and banking services at HKU, please find the map here.

Registration fee

Regular:  HK$1,000
Student/Unwaged: HK$400

The symposium registration fee includes morning and afternoon coffee breaks, the excursion on June 11 and the symposium dinner on June 12.

Online registration with payment by credit card should be made by April 10, 2013. Please click here.

Alternatively, you can fill in the registration form and return it with your cheque by April 10, 2013.

Registration form

Please note that after April 10, we are no longer able to consider requests for financial assistance to attend the conference.

Paper proposals

Please send the title and a 200-word abstract of your paper by email to the symposium convenors at lcap15@hku.hk by March 10, 2013. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by March 31.


There will be a visit to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum in the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11. Located at Central Ferry Pier 8, the museum documents and showcases Hong Kong's maritime past and present and its connections to the Asia-Pacific region and the wider world. Its galleries also offer stunning views of Victoria Harbour and the Central district. The excursion will include a reading session.


The following hotels offer a special conference rate to participants in the symposium:

Traders Hotel (508 Queen's Road West, Hong Kong): HK$880/night
Island Pacific Hotel (152 Connaught Road West, Hong Kong): HK$850/night.
Best Western Hotel Harbour View (239 Queen’s Road West, Hong Kong): HK$780/night.

Participants can book directly by using the booking form provided:

Traders Hotel booking form or online booking
Island Pacific Hotel booking form
Best Western Hotel Harbour View booking form

Airport transportation

Airport Express: from Hong Kong International Airport to Hong Kong Station, approx. 35 minutes, HK$100. Free shuttle bus from Hong Kong Station to Island Pacific Hotel or Best Western Hotel Harbour View (Route H1 from Hong Kong Station to Western District).

Public bus (Cityflyer) Route A10 from Hong Kong International Airport to Connaught Garden, Connaught Road West (for Island Pacific Hotel or Best West Harbour View), and to Shek Tong Tsui Complex, Queen's Road West (for Traders Hotel), HK$48.

Airport Hotelink: Luxury Coach shuttle service from Hong Kong International Airport to major hotels in Hong Kong (including Island Pacific Hotel, Best Western Hotel Harbour View and Traders Hotel), HK$140. Tickets can be purchased at counter B01 in the Arrivals Hall of the airport Terminal 1.

Taxi: from Hong Kong International Airport to Hong Kong Island, approx. HK$300.



Quick search by participant:

Monday, June 10

Room 436, 4/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU







Welcome by Prof. Kam Louie, Dean of Arts, HKU
Opening of the symposium




Keynote lecture – Dennis Haskell (University of Western Australia)
Poetic Views of Asia: A Personal Journey



11:15 – 12:45

Session 1 – Chair: Agnes Lam
Rocking the Boat: Interventions on Risk-Averse Environments


  1. Creating Risk: Counter Narratives in Selected Singaporean Texts
    Lily Rose Tope (University of the Philippines Diliman)




Lunch break



14:00 – 15:30

Session 2 – Chair: Eddie Tay
Risk and Elegance: The State of the Address and Redress in Literary Texts


  1. Risk and Redressal in Sufi Literary Texts
    Sami Rafiq (Aligarh Muslim University)

  2. The Poetic Palimpsest in Selected Philippine Texts
    Isabela Banzon (University of the Philippines Diliman)




Coffee break



16:00 – 17:30

Session 3 – Chair: Wilson Chik
Women and Representation in the Age of Risk


  1. Daring to Risk: Women in Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses
    Shahla Ghauri (Aligarh Muslim University)

  2. Southeast Asian women in the Age of Risk: Portrayals of women in selected works by Singaporean and Cambodian women writers
    Nor Faridah Abdul Manaf (International Islamic University Malaysia) and Mazni Muslim (Universiti Teknologi MARA, Terengganu)


Tuesday, June 11

Convocation Room, MB218, 2/F, Main Building, HKU


9:45 – 11:15

Session 4 – Chair: Kuffy Ko
Life Writing: Signposts and Survival in Memoir and Autobiography


  1. Editing the Life Story: How working on Edwin Thumboo's Autobiography spurred me to write my own Memoir
    Carlotta Ladyizumi Abrams (Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale AZ)

  2. Making Meaning out of Madness through the Memoir
    Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo (University of Santo Tomas - Manila)




Coffee break



11:30 – 13:00

Session 5 – Chair: Nor Faridah Abdul Manaf
Body and Form: Trial and Error of Representation


  1. Messiness, Elegance and A Narrative of the Fiji Museum
    Allison O. Ramsay (University of the South Pacific)

  2. The Risk of Rhyme in Our Accelerated Age
    Paolo Manalo (University of the Philippines Diliman)




Readings by Dennis Haskell and Hsu-Ming Teo
Chair: Simon Yiu-Tsan Ng



14:30 – 19:30

Excursion to Hong Kong Maritime Museum


Readings (starting around 16:30) – Chair: A.J. Thomas

  • Siobhan Hodge (U of Western Australia) & Rosalind McFarlane (Monash): Readings from “Speaking Geographies”
  • Carlotta Abrams
  • Isabela Banzon
  • Agnes Lam
  • Cristina Hidalgo
  • Jennifer Mackenzie
  • Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz
  • Sami Rafiq
  • A.J.Thomas




Wednesday, June 12

Room 436, 4/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU


9:30 – 11:00

Session 6 – Chair: Irene Tsang
Hong Kong Voices: Re-framing Uncertainties and Next Steps


  1. Writing off Risk: Hedging in the Biomedical Discourse of Sars
    Thomas David Chavez (University of the Philippines Diliman)

  2. Hong Kong Lucida
    Eddie Tay (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)




Coffee break



11:30 – 13:00

Session 7 – Chair: Isabela Banzon
Space and Place: Performance and Encounter at the Edge of Risk


  1. Spectral Transgressions: Street Art and the Hauntology of Erasures
    Louise Sonido (University of the Philippines Diliman)

  2. Creating on the Edge: Choreographic Practices of Contemporary Dance Artists in the Philippines
    Ruth Jordana Luna Pison (University of the Philippines Diliman)




Lunch break



14:00 – 15:30

Session 8 – Chair: Lily Rose Tope
Street Sense: Chaos, Idealization and Sustainability


  1. Detective Fiction in an Age of Uncertainty
    Audrey Rose G. Mirasol (University of the Philippines Diliman)

  2. The Massage: An Analysis of Risk and Compassion
    Jennifer Mackenzie (University of Melbourne)




Coffee break




Keynote lecture – Hsu-Ming Teo (Macquarie University)
Talking sex, writing the body: Asian ‘literotica’ in the age of risk




Closing of the symposium




Conference dinner: Jaspa’s Restaurant


(G/F, 28-30 Staunton Street, Central, tel. 2869-0733)



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