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Cultural extraterritoriality: Intra-regional politics in contemporary Hong Kong cinema

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In this article, Victor Fan argues that analysing contemporary Hong Kong cinema requires active rewriting of established postcolonial theories by taking into account the specific mode of colonization of Hong Kong: extraterritoriality. This concept has been responsible for the construction of the cultural plurality, linguistic ambiguity and political liminality of Hong Kong and its cinematographic experience, as well as the incongruence between the community’s political consciousness after 1997 and the larger national imagination promulgated by the Beijing government. The term ‘extraterritoriality’ was translated into Chinese after 1895 via Japanese as ‘zhiwai faquan’: the right to exercise one’s law outside a nation state’s sovereign terrain, and colonialism in China between 1844 and 1949 was largely characterized by a continuous reformulation and systematization of this concept. It in fact still informs the way former colonized regions in China are administered today, and the political unconscious of their residents. With Johnnie To’s 2012 film Duzhan (Ct. Dukzin)/Drug War as a case study, contemporary Hong Kong cinema, Fan argues, can be understood as a public sphere where an extraterritorial consciousness and the contesting political affects associated with it are actively negotiated.
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Keywords: CEPA; Drug War; Giorgio Agamben; Hong Kong cinema; Johnnie To; bare life; extraterritoriality; homo sacer; postcolonialism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: King’s College London

Publication date: September 1, 2015

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  • The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture is the first academic peer-reviewed journal for scholars, teachers, and students from around the world who have an active and passionate interest in the Popular Culture of East Asia. The journal is devoted to all aspects of popular culture in East Asia and the interplay between East Asia and the wider world. With the growth in popularity of Asian visual products in the Western world and the increasing strength of the Asian markets, this publication fulfills the need for an international journal that allows Western and Asian film, media, literary, music, fashion, digital media, television, art and cultural scholars alike to engage in discussion. In the last few decades there has been a huge rise in the interest in East Asian popular culture. The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture will be engaging directly with that trend. From film to music; art to translation and fashion to tourism, this journal will offer a forum where multidisciplinary work can come together in new and exciting ways.
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