In the Mood for Nostalgia: Hong Kong's Colonial Legacy in Transition

Sep 16, 2021  | 10-11am PT | 1-2pm ET

Virtual Lecture | Speaker: Claudia Lillge (Freie Universitat Berlin)

In cooperation with Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley 

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Pro-democracy and anti-government protests involving violent clashes with police have been rocking Hong Kong for several years now, and the situation shows no signs of abating. Since the formation of the so-called "Umbrella Movement" in 2014 with its demand for free and fair elections, the media has often aimed the cameras at groups of people waving Hong Kong's old British colonial flag or the Union Jack. What is the symbolic meaning of these flags in this particular context, and how were the flags perceived by media around the globe?
On the one hand, the flags were seen as a call for attention directed at the world public, especially Great Britain. On the other hand, and this may be surprising at first, the flags were often interpreted as an expression of nostalgia. Using examples from film (Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love, 2000), architecture (The Victoria Prison Compound, 2011-2018), and literature (Xu Xi's Dear Hong Kong. An Elegy for a City, 2017) – this lecture will specifically focus on the discourse of postcolonial nostalgia and identity-seeking in modern Hong Kong culture, which has arisen in the aftermath of its British colonial past and its reunification with mainland China in 1997.