Hong Kong’s Elusive Identity: Searching in the Past, Present, and Future

James Walter Ellis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Hong Kong is adrift between its British colonial past and its upcoming political reunification with the ancestral Chinese motherland. Hong Kong has endured a prolonged identity crisis in recent years, as it struggles to reconcile conflicts between its transnational worldview and the cultural identity, or Chineseness, of its majority population. A growing wave of nostalgia for the colonial era has frustrated Beijing’s efforts to win the hearts and minds of Hongkongers. This essay analyzes how Hong Kong’s distinctive local character is reflected in several socio-cultural arenas: the heritage industry, filmmaking, efforts to preserve historic structures and intangible heritage, public education, and tourism. With reunification on the horizon, Hongkongers want to assert an independent cultural identity but still seem to exist at the “intersection of different spaces”.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Culture and History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2018


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