Cognitive Re-territorialisation and Spatial De-territorialisation: the ‘cramped space’ in selected post-2019 literary works of Hong Kong

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


This article studies Florence Ng’s Wild Boar in Victoria Harbour 維多利亞港的野豬 (2019), Dorothy Tse’s Ghosts with no Umbrella 無遮鬼 (2021), and Ching Hang Wong’s Lorries Returning from the South 南歸貨車 (2021) in light of the concept of “the cramped space” of Gills Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1986) and examines the emergence of a new cognitive state of being in post-2019 Hong Kong (HK). As British colonial rule came to an end, Ackbar Abbas (1997) argues that HK is a distinctive postcolonial space because it has no pre-colonial past. It is “a cultural space” of “disappearance.” Yet, in the past twenty-five years, the city has achieved a little more than that. Despite various socio-political paradigm shifts, there have been attempts to search for a sense of being via civil resistance and reformations. While some regard those as failed efforts in view of the post-2019 population exodus that is arguably redefining HK’s demographic and geopolitical space, this article suggests that a cognitive re-territorialisation is indeed taking place in its literary space. Ng’s poetry collection features HK’s estranged mundane in written English, Chinese, Cantonese, and “Cantonglish”; Tse’s collection of magic realist stories revolves around the city and its specters; Wong’s short stories collection juxtaposes the lives in the western part of HK that is commonly regarded as its grass-roots suburb. The literary space created by Ng, Tse, and Wong crystalises unique facets of HK respectively. Significantly, their works all resonate with the conceptualisation of the concept of the postcolonial “cramped space” of Deleuze and Guattari (1986). In the “cramped space,” there exists “a missing people” – the minority (in terms of power) in lack of and refuses a coherent collective identity. “Minor literature” created per se does not address a people who are already existing but invents the consciousness of that missing people. As such, this article draws on the idea of inventing a missing people and the sense of becoming of “minor literature” to argue that the works of Ng, Tse, and Wong are sites of cognitive re-territorialisation as spatial de-territorialisation takes place in post-2019 HK. Focusing on Ng’s linguistic hybridity, Tse’s magic realist absurdity, and Wong’s marginality, it investigates a pathology of becoming that does not merely serve as a counter discourse but an active agent in inventing a cognition of becoming.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHong Kong Discourse
Subtitle of host publicationSurveillance, Resistance, Transformation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Dec 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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