Writers Houses and the Making of Memory (Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies)

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The second life of Kowloon Walled City: Crime, media and cultural memory

Routledge research in cultural and media studies , Print book : English View all editions and formats. Literary landmarks. User lists Similar Items. Your heart-rate leaps up, pounding and tentative; bewildered, you step forward again, and find yourself in a dimly-lit, narrow alleyway of Chinese storefronts. Once your eyes adjust, you venture forward again. There, the first signs of incongruity confront you — an elevator, and an escalator.

A sickening, lurching feeling descends as you ascend to the next level.

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Fieldnote, 18 July The Walled City thereby becomes dehistoricised for nostalgic fantasy and consumption Iwabuchi, b : The distinction between history and memory is blurred in this hyperreal re-creation:. After the initial, heart-rending shock of entry, the sadness of the arcade swims into view. That slightly grubby, greasy tang of stale smoke and broken dreams and small-change capitalism.

Nobody looks at the walled city exhibit. A staff member tidies busily; the punters make a beeline for the machines. This contradictory co-existence of consumerism and unvarnished social life in some ways reflects a unique configuration of crime, consumerism and culture in Asia Lui, Studies on East Asian popular culture usually position Japan as the producer and other locales such as Hong Kong as the consumers Bridges, ; Iwabuchi, b ; Otmazgin, ; therefore, the reconstruction of the imagined Walled City reverses this cultural flow. Nonetheless, as analyses of cultural memory suggest, the Walled City has also been re-appropriated, reincorporated and re-embedded into everyday life in new and unpredictable ways.

One example of this can be found in the incorporation of the Walled City into youth-led ACG action, comics, gaming practices in Hong Kong. Authored by the writer Yu Yi and illustrated by Danny Szeto, it involves the story of Lok Kwan, a male protagonist and triad member who escapes to the Walled City see Figure 5. Y: Initially, I was targeting people of my age.


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I was 30 when I wrote the novel. I wrote about the collective memories of the s. The manga adaption subsequently attracted many secondary school students. This is weird because they were not our target audience. The readers are much younger than our expectation. Y: Yes. Even primary school students buy the manga.

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I once attended a fan event. Fans published 10—20 fan works. Most of them are in their 10s. In the case of COD, this involved the acting out of characters from the comic book in particular locations in Hong Kong — including in the Walled City Park. As you can see the park nowadays has framed our memory in certain limited ways. I feel that I have exactly missed the chance to explore KWC in real since it was demolished a few years after I was born. Indeed, in certain circumstances, COD cosplay itself was intended as a reclamation of Hong Kong identity.

As Maigo recalls:. KWC is something that Hong Kong has lost. KWC no long existed when I was born.

Writers' houses and the making of memory

What we know about KWC are all myths. We can play with many … local elements … Something that is very Hong Kong. This approach is intended to build foundations for a nascent Asian criminology while unsettling the roots of scholarship on crime and culture which tends towards an Anglo-American perspective.

First, in contrasting the lived experience of place constituted by people who lived and worked in the Walled City — which frequently features crime and corruption — with the sanitised memorial in its place, the article has drawn attention to the politics of forgetting and memory in Hong Kong. In this way, the Walled City highlights a complex and fragmentary picture of a highly connected, hyper-mediated and consumer-driven crime-media nexus that has distinctive characteristics.

As film historian, So, interviewed for the project, summarises:. KWC is like adding sugar to a cup of coffee: you add a cube of sugar to it and it melts. Only a tiny piece of concentrated sugar is left. Most aspects of Hong Kong since the s have already merged into the broader environment: the society, the colonial rule, or the general global political economy of the 20th century.

But there is still something that cannot be dissolved … KWC is the most concentrated essence of Hong Kong … there are always forces of resistance. It is what makes Hong Kong interesting. The multiple ways in which the Walled City has been re-storied and multi-mediated lead to several conclusions pertinent to the study of crime, media and culture in Asia. First, while the standard toolbox of criminological concepts can be problematic when applied to Asia Lee and Laidler, , the virtual domain has created a level playing field in which there is a clear argument for a common theoretical vocabulary.

Second, it is important to understand these lived realities within specific cultural contexts.


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  • Hong Kong and Asia are interesting and important sites as they have different forms of youth subcultures and demonstrate the importance of the local — cosplay subcultures for example exhibit both the fluidity of cultural reference points and an anchoring in history. Third, the study of cultural memory represents a critical meeting point for these processes, demonstrating the need for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives in tapping into these unique rhythms. Tsang documents a total of nine skirmishes over efforts to clear the Walled City in the course of the 20th century.

    Despite a legal ruling of habeas corpus over the territory in , which established legal sovereignty, this was never recognised by the Chinese government Tsang, : The YouTube film has been viewed over , times. The first results of each search engine were examined, which included blogs, newspapers, videos and bulletin boards. Official records of KWC were almost absent.

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