Borderscape, Exile, Trafficking: The Geopoetics of Ying Liang’s A Family Tour and Bai Xue’s The Crossing

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the sociopolitical dynamics of borderscape and cinematic expression in HKSAR cinema. It asks how the precarious notion of borderscape derived from the Cold War ideological divide between Chinese communism and Western liberalism bears its fundamental contradictions on the unstable “One Country, Two Systems,” promised to grant the city and its citizens a high degree of autonomy after 1997. The borderscape relates not only to socially produced and constantly redefined territorial borders from the Cold War to a new Cold War world order, but it also emphasizes the malleable boundaries of texts, discourses, and imaginaries that are challenging what is socially and culturally prohibited, regulated, or artistically negotiated on political allegiance and individual identity politics.
Based on the real life experiences of dissident Chinese filmmaker Ying Liang now residing in Hong Kong, A Family Tour (2018) centers on an exiled Chinese woman director who has had to live in Hong Kong since making a subversive feature about a mass murder in Shanghai. Arranged by her husband in a ‘family tour,’ the filmmaker goes to a film festival in Taipei so that she can time the visit to meet her mother coming from the mainland. The exiled director crafts not only a moving drama about the pain of life without a homeland, but the autobiographical film itself piques our reflection upon the internalization of diasporic identity: What does it mean to a community of citizens who have felt out of place in their own home?
The issue also rests with how borderscape frames cinematic storytelling to provide a possibility of border-thinking. The directing debut of mainland Chinese filmmaker Bai Xue, The Crossing (2018) is set on the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China, where a teenage schoolgirl embarks on a smuggling career by crossing physical borders and moral boundaries. Avoiding as it does the misperception of Hong Kong as hub of money, desire, and consumption, the film equally shies away from the escalating mainland-Hong Kong conflicts and the deepening misunderstanding between the people across the border. The chapter examines the geopoetics and geopolitics of border-crossing, inquiring about the subjective voices, affections, feelings, aspirations, and frustrations of the youths in this coming-of-age story.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAffective Geographies and Narratives of Chinese Diaspora
EditorsMelody Yunzi Li, Robert T. Tally Jr.
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783031101571
ISBN (Print)9783031101564, 9783031101595
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2022

Publication series

NameGeocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies
ISSN (Print)2578-9694
ISSN (Electronic)2634-5188

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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