The ghostly presence of the Hong Kong subject in Rey Chow’s postcolonial critique

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Hong Kong, the ex-British colony where postcolonial critic Rey Chow grew up and was educated, is merely a ghostly presence in her postcolonial critiques though it is always being made reference to. By no means can one say that the port city is relatively absent or it just occupies a minor place in Chow’s discursive space. It is only that its presence or referentiality has been bracketed, and sometimes dismantled from the categorization of geopolitical determinant or particularism. In a way, ‘Hong Kong’ is more a sign that constitutes a certain alterity from within the bounds of subordination, thus creating room for radical theorization. Chow’s discourse always attempts to find its own political position in between the appropriation of Western theory and the particularistic assertion of local, history-bound and culturally unique difference which is often understood as a kind of resistance to the former. As a result, the certitude of the particular identity of Hong Kong cannot be easily established. However, a spectral presence is produced and it urges us to reflect upon. The act of disavowing, however, may point to not only the subtle form of violence inherent in a system of representation that is historically intertwined with domination and exploitation, but also the lack of (temporal and ontological) self-coincidence in theoretical discourse itself. This essay examines the ambivalence or indeterminacy of ‘Hong Kong’ as a thing to be theorized in the postcolonial theory of Chow’s writing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-48
Number of pages22
JournalTrans-Humanities Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


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