Boat dwellers and maritime heritage in Hong Kong: coming ashore to Yue Kwong Chuen (Fishing Lights Estate)

Lachlan Barber*, Po-Yin Stephanie Chung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Hong Kong’s cultural heritage and tourism offerings include several prominent symbols and legacies drawn from the waters that surround it, including dragon boat racing, Tin Hau temples honouring the Goddess of the sea, and iconic junk boats sailing on the harbour. Within the growing field of Hong Kong heritage studies, however, there has been little work addressing these and other aspects of its maritime past. This paper addresses this contradiction, of the simultaneous presence and absence of maritime heritage. It does so by considering the story of the ‘coming ashore’ (上岸) of people who lived on boats in the fishing centre of Aberdeen on the south side of Hong Kong Island. In the 1960s, many of them moved into Yue Kwong Chuen, an early public housing estate which is now being redeveloped. Drawing on archival research and oral history interviews, we consider the significance of the estate as an important example of the heritage of public housing that sheds light on the status of boat dwellers, excluded for centuries in South China, and their eventual incorporation into land-based society. The paper contributes new insights on collective memory and identity formation in Hong Kong under and after colonial rule.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1250-1264
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number11
Early online date22 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Conservation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Museology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Hong Kong
  • Maritime heritage
  • collective memory
  • colonial governance
  • public housing


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