Oxford Plants and People

This autumn I’m visting scholar at the University of Oxford China Centre, hosted by the awesome prof. Margaret Hillenbrand. In between visits to Oxford botanic garden and arboretum, Rousham gardens, Waterperry gardens and Batsford arboretum, I met a lot of really interesting and knowledgeable people (as well as plants).

As part of Margaret’s lecture series ‘Visual Culture in Modern and Contemporary China‘ I listened to Jane Qian Liu talk about how, at the beginning of the twentieth century, creatively translated love stories blurred the boundaries between reader, writer and protagonist when people not only read but rewrote and even lived out the new romantic narratives.

I was absolutely fascinated by Coraline Jortay’s presentation of her ongoing research into Republican-era debates on gendered pronouns moving from 他 and 伊 over attempts at modernisation through the Japanese 彼女 or the latinized ta and taa to the 她 we know today and further into contemporary gender-neutral pronouns like X也 and ta們.

I also got to share my own ongoing research on how contemporary Sinophone works of fiction use botanical characters, plant imagery and green environments to create alternative realities, explore possible futures and deal with traumatic pasts – inclduing how plants figure as partly human monsters, planetary partners, or ecological avengers in works by Chi Hui 迟卉, Yan Ge 颜歌, Dorothy Tse’s 謝曉虹, Alai 阿来, Chu T’ien-hsin 朱天心, and Dung Kai-cheung 董啟章.

For more from my Green Ink project, see “Trees Keep Time An Ecocritical Approach to Literary Temporality” in Ecocriticism and Chinese Literature edited by Riccardo Moratto, Nicoletta Pesaro and Di-kai Chao (Routledge 2022) and stay tuned for my forthcoming chapter on plant-human chimeras in speculative fiction.

Finally, I got to explore the glorious, if somewhat muddy, Oxford countryside – here are a biased outsider’s best tips:

NATURE TIP: Ramble! Walk north along the Thames past Port Meadow and on to the Trout Inn or south past Christ Church Meadow to the Isis Farmhouse pub. For a longer walk, try the Oxford Jubilee Circular Walk up Boar Hill to the view that inspired Matthew Arnold to write about Oxford’s “dreaming spires.”

TIPPLE TIP: Try a pint of real/cask ale – it is allowed to continue fermentation in the cask at the pub and the result is a much more complex and mellow taste than the sharp fizz of ordinary tap beer.

BOOK TIP: If you are a student or faculty at a university in or outside the UK, you can apply for a Bodleian reader card and use all the fabulous libraries. There are also some tempting second hand bookshops like Last Bookshop Jericho, Book Stop by St. Mary Magdalen and Oxfam on St Giles.

Ghost Island: Supernatural Taiwan in Lyon

A most enjoyable gathering of Demons, Spirits and the Supernatural in Taiwanese Arts at Lyon Spotlight Taiwan 2022!

I finally got to meet fabled scholar-translators Coraline Jortay and Gwennaël Gaffric, learned a lot about the various supernatural beings that inhabit Taiwan, and am now deeply enthralled reading Kao Yi-feng’s 高翊峰 novel 2069.

I presented my work on spatiality, magic, and metafiction in 吳明益 Wu Mingyi’s 《天橋上的魔術師》 The Magician on the Skywalk (from my book Sensing the Sinophone and also from my article “Take the Elevator to Tomorrow” Prism (2022) 19 (1): 86–101.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Gwennaël Gaffric scholar, editor, and translator of Sinophone fiction – including Chi Ta-wei’s 膜 Membrane in 2015.

Corrado Neri – a passionate Sinophone film scholar and more than average cinephile.

Kao Yi-feng 高翊峰 – an author of speculative fiction, whose latest novel 2069 I’m reading with great delight.

Wafa Ghermani who knows everything about Taiwanese films.

Norbert Danysz who is writing a dissertation on contemporary Taiwanese comics – awesome!

Coraline Jortay – a brilliant scholar and practitioner of literary translation – and my guide to Oxford this Michaelmas term.

Marie Laureillard who studies and teaches history of modern art and aesthetics of China and Taiwan.

Michelle Bloom – a Professor of Comparative Literature/French and specialist in Contemporary Sino-French Cinema.

Ho Ching-yao 何敬堯 – a novellist who has just published a spectacular illustrated volume of Taiwanese supernatural beings.

PROGRAMME

« Taïwan, île-fantôme et île de fantômes »
Gwennaël Gaffric (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3) et Corrado Neri (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3)

Masterclass de l’écrivain Kao Yi-feng 高翊峰
interprétation et modération : Gwennaël Gaffric (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3)

Projection de The Tag-Along (紅衣小女孩, 2015) de Cheng Wei-hao (程偉豪)
suivie d’une discussion avec Corrado Neri (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3), Ho Ching-yao 何敬堯 (écrivain) et Kao Yi-feng 高翊峰 (écrivain)

Rencontre avec le producteur Stefano Centini autour du film A Holy Family (神人之家, 2022) d’Elvis Lu (盧盈良)
modération : Wafa Ghermani (Cinémathèque française)

Norbert Danysz (ENS de Lyon), « Les figures spectrales dans les bandes dessinées de Ding Pao-yen »

Coraline Jortay (University of Oxford), « Hanter le langage: spectres et rémanences linguistiques dans l’oeuvre de Li Ang »

Marie Laureillard (Université Lumière Lyon 2), « Les Yaoguai de Taiwan vus par Ho Ching-yao et Chang Chi-ya »

Astrid Møller-Olsen (Lund/Stavanger/Oxford Universities), “Above and Beyond: Topologies of Magic and Metafiction in Wu Mingyi”

Michelle Bloom (University of California), « Les fantômes de Tsai Ming-liang »

Masterclass et lecture de l’écrivain taïwanais Ho Ching-yao 何敬堯
interprétation et modération : Gwennaël Gaffric (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3)

Projection de God man dog (流浪神狗人, 2007), de Singing Chen 陳芯宜
suivie par une discussion avec la réalisatrice Singing Chen, avec Michelle Bloom (University of California), Wafa Ghermani (Cinémathèque française) et Corrado Neri (Université Lyon 3)

Stories Grow in Hong Kong: 𝑂𝑓 𝐹𝑜𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐻𝑢𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑠 review

My review was first publish in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal on September 1st, 2022.

Monika Gaenssbauer and Nicholas Olczak (editors). Of Forests and Humans: Hong Kong Contemporary Short Fiction. Edition Cathay, vol. 74, Bochum, Projekt Verlag, 2019.

In Of Forests and Humans, Monika Gaenssbauer and Nicholas Olczak present anglophone readers with the narrative experimentation, complex urbanism and literary variety of contemporary fiction from Hong Kong. The volume contains six well-chosen short stories published between 1992 and 2011 and introduces a variety of different literary styles, from Xi Xi’s 西西 surreal fabulations in “Elzéard Bouffier’s Forest” to Chan Lai Kuen’s 陳麗娟 science-fiction-flavoured urban labyrinths in “E6880**(2) from Block 6, building 20, wing E”.

Each short story is followed by a close reading by the editor-translators, which provides cultural and historical context, suggestions for relevant theoretical approaches, as well as their reading of the piece. This is meant as a pathway into the text rather than a definitive interpretation, for, as the editors rightly acknowledge, the “strength of many of the stories in this collection [is] that they might draw very different responses and interpretations from different kinds of readers”. For instance, where Gaenssbauer and Olczak were reminded of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s short story “The Tunnel” when reading Wang Pu’s 王璞 “Greek Sandals”, an image from “The Tunnel” in Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 film Dreams instantly surfaced in my mind when I read the story. It is interesting that the symbolic structure of the tunnel often used to represent the link between conscious wakefulness and subconscious longings and emotions so readily solicits personal and immediate responses in different readers. If Hong Kong literature has a common denominator despite its plurality of forms and voices, it is the willingness to embrace and invite, at times even demand, multiple, contrasting and complicated readings.

As the editors note, Xi Xi’s story is intertextual in setting, writing itself into and through Jean Giono’s “The Man Who Planted Trees”. It is a story of the cyclical withering and rebirth of a utopian forest, half-hearsay, half-imaginary, and slowly being translated, it forms the memory of the second-person protagonist’s father through the protagonist’s sensory experiences and onto the pages of the story. This situates the story firmly on the boundary between memory and fiction, and reality and imagination, allowing us to read it as a metafictional comment on how such processes become intertwined in literary narratives. The story also has an ecocritical aftertaste when, in the space of a single page, the utopian forest of the father’s recollections comes to life only to dry up again: “Elzéard Bouffier’s forest unfolded like a flower, this green sea of trees changed the area into a paradise where people lived peacefully […] The dried out well also came to life again […]” and a few lines further down, “the last drops of water had dried up, the river turned into a clay-grey canal. You did not know what had happened in the meantime to turn the gardens into a wasteland and make Elzéard Bouffier’s forest completely disappear.” Several utopian intertexts spring to mind, including Tao Yuanming’s 陶淵明 famous fable “Peach Blossom Spring”, which depicts a hidden site where human society has been preserved in its natural and unspoiled state. At the same time, it is also metatextual, describing how the reading experience brings to life the forest of memory that has all but disappeared with time. In the end, when the protagonist arrives at the barren memory of a long-gone forest and finds the last of Bouffier’s acorns, the cycle is ready to start over as the seeds sprout a new story, a new life.

Several of the stories experiment with the popular genre of urban romance, but they do so in completely unexpected ways by delving into darker aspects of city life. This includes depictions of deadly violence in Jessie Chu’s 朱艷紅 “Wonderland”, a story that flirts with the genre of hard-boiled detective fiction without giving in to any of the clichés. Instead, it uses the crime fiction format to explore contrasting yet intermingled experiences of alienation and proximity in a global big city.

“Water pipes on the side of a building on the Ap Lei Chau Estate” by Anne Roberts

Hon Lai-chu’s 韓麗珠 “Water Pipe Forest” is sublime in its depiction of the city-body, using as it does the image of plumbing to form a corporeal link between human interior and urban exterior. At the same time as the building across from the narrator-protagonist’s home is demolished due to faulty plumbing and bursting pipes, her grandmother is admitted to hospital with a gastric ailment establishing a symbolic parallel. On a more explicit note, the narrator identifies directly with her building through the similarity between water pipes and gastric tubes: “On the fourth day without water I still heard no noise in the water pipe. I felt restless, as if part of my body was missing.” Playing with sensory perceptions of watery noises gurgling through buildings and bodies, the story replicates and reverses the relationship between citizen and city in the relationship between reader and text. Just as the sound of water in the pipes recalls and affirms the protagonist own body, so does the watery symphony of the text resound in the body of the reader.

Of Forests and Humans promises to be a great resource for students of literature, Chinese studies, and/or translation studies, yet I can’t help wishing that the editors had opted for a bilingual text. This would have allowed curious anglophone readers to acquaint themselves with traditional characters while enjoying high-quality literature and to explore the paths chosen by the translators as a practical exercise in translation. Despite this omission, the fact that the original title and source of each story is given at the end of each translation is a terrific help that will permit readers to pursue analyses of the original texts or follow up on other works by the authors showcased in this collection. The bibliography at the end of the volume likewise provides a good starting point for readers who want to engage theoretically and historically with Hong Kong literature.

Read together, these stories are examples of innovative approaches to genres such as urban romance, science fiction, crime fiction and showcase the diversity and originality of Hong Kong literature. The editors have wisely included highly celebrated as well as lesser-known authors, ensuring there is something for both veterans and newcomers to explore. Some of the translations feel a little stiff while others offer a smoother read and in a few instances something appears to have gone wrong in the typesetting, baffling the reader with recurring light-grey bits of text.

The title Of Forests and Humans, as well as providing a thematic focus on the jungle-like qualities of urban life, creates an anticipation of narrative engagements with the spatial that are both organic and unconventional, an expectation the stories each fulfil in their individual way. Here, skyscrapers rise like huge tree trunks above the humans navigating the dynamic and metamorphous cityscape. People look at one another’s faces and see overlapping images of intimate strangers and alienated kinfolk. Readers get lost in unfamiliar storylines, only to glimpse their own memories at every fictional street corner. There is certainly enough to discover and celebrate in contemporary Hong Kong literature and now a little more of it is available in English.

How to cite: Møller-Olsen, Astrid. “Stories Grow in Hong Kong: A Review of Of Forests and Humans.” Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 01 Sept. 2022, chajournal.blog/2022/09/01/forests-and-humans/

Bogreception: Sensing the Sinophone

Jeg holder en lille uformel bogreception for min nye bog Sensing the Sinophone: Urban Memoryscapes in Contemporary Fiction. Det bliver fredag d. 7. oktober mellem 16.30 og 18 i Storrs herlige antikvariat. Man behøver ikke komme til tiden.

Der vil være mulighed for at høre om bogen, bladre i bogen og snakke om bogen, men ikke købe bogen. Til gengæld vil der være gratis eks. af min afhandling om samme emne. Der vil også være lidt øl. Og hygge. Og tusindvis af andre bøger.

Storrs Antikvariat Frederikssundsvej 61, 2400 København NV (dejlige nordvest)

Fredag d. 7. oktober kl.16.30-18

(efterfulgt af fyraften i anti til kl.20)

Lokkemad:

“With a lineup of works drawn from contemporary Chinese and Sinophone communities, Astrid Møller-Olsen pays special attention to the articulations of senses in the texts under discussion, from audio-visual contact to melodious association, tactile sensation, aromatic emanation, and kinetic exercise, culminating in mnemonic imagination and gendered fabulation. The result is a work on urban synesthesia, a kaleidoscopic projection of sensorium in a narrative form. Her analyses of works by writers such as Chu Tien-hsin and Wu Ming-yi are particularly compelling. Sensing the Sinophone has introduced a new direction for literary studies and is sure to be an invaluable source for anyone interested in narratology, urban studies, environmental studies, affect studies, and above all comparative literature in both Sinophone and global contexts.” —David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University

“Evoking the language and logic of poetry, Sensing the Sinophone is a brilliant literary urban ecology that conjures cities, like texts, as open, dynamic, sensing, vital, enduring entities. How, Astrid Møller-Olsen asks, do characters experience sensory memories in six novels of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Taipei, activated by architectural, botanical, and bodily presences in the city? With theoretical insights ranging from quantum mechanics to Confucian cosmology, this phenomenological elucidation of fictionalized cities as somaticized organisms with physiological functions is a remarkable intervention.” —Robin Visser, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“This is a nuanced, original study of literary representations of memory in relation to time, space, and sensory experiences in three contemporary global cities: Shanghai, Taipei, and Hong Kong. Not only does it break new ground in several fields (Chinese studies, comparative literature, urban studies), but it also makes a powerful case for the lasting human value of literature.” —Michelle Yeh, UC Davis

Fragments of Hong Kong in Napoli

This summer, I travelled to Napoli for one of the most enjoyable scholarly gatherings I’ve attended in a long time – a two-day symposium on Genealogies of Literary Form in Contemporary China beautifully organised by Marco Fumian.

I had a lot of amazing (vegetarian!) food plus inspiring (and entertaining) conversations on top of which I got to present my paper “Fragments of Hong Kong: Collage, Archive, Dictionary,” in which I trace a tendency towards fragmented formats in contemporary literary works from Hong Kong and relate it to ongoing identity politics in the city. Through narrative analyses of Sai Sai’s 西西 My City 我城 (1975), Dung, Kai-cheung’s 董啟章 Atlas 地圖集 (1997), and A Dictionary of Two Cities I–-II 雙城 辭典I-II (2012) by Hon Lai Chu 韓麗珠 & Dorothy Tse 謝曉虹, I arrive at a typology of fragmented formats that includes the collage, the archive, and the dictionary, and which represent different but related strategies for literary experimentation with polyphonic, anti-essentialist approaches to Hong Kong identities.

The Napoli All Stars:

  • Paola Iovene (University of Chicago), “Reading Beyond Books: Airing Lu Yao”
  • Marco Fumian (Oriental University, Naples), “Methods of Distancing and the Limits of Realism in Contemporary China”
  • Nicoletta Pesaro (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice), “From the Avantgarde to the Unnatural Narrative: Can Xue’s Fictional World and its Political Meaning”
  • Wendy Larson (University of Oregon), “Not Italian Opera: Mo Yan’s Sandalwood Death and the Scourge of Western Literary Models”
  • Paolo Magagnin (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice), “Chinese Stories for Global Young Readers: a Look at the Cao Wenxuan Phenomenon”
  • Pamela Hunt (University of Oxford), “A Wider and Stranger Space”: Xue Yiwei’s World-Shaped Literature”
  • Astrid Møller-Olsen (Lund University and University of Stavanger), “Fragments of Hong Kong: Collage, Archive, Dictionary”
  • Jiwei Xiao (Fairfield University), “The Talk of the Town: Chitchats in Xijie xiaoshuo and Cinema”
  • Lena Henningsen (University of Freiburg) “Transformations of a Literary Giant: The Re-Writing of Lu Xun and his Works in Chinese Lianhuanhua Comics”
  • Daria Berg (University of St. Gallen), “Genealogy of Utopia and anti-Utopia in Chinese literature”
  • Martina Codeluppi (University of Insubria, Como), “What about Climate Change? The Underdeveloped Branch of Chinese Cli-Fi”
  • Mingwei Song (Wellesley College), “New Wonders of a Nonbinary Universe: Genders of Chinese Science Fiction”

Political Botany — ACLA 2022

At this year’s ACLA conference, I participated in “Political Botany” a 3-day panel of thinking with plants and the human languages that are used to approach, understand, control, and enageg with them in text:

Seminar organizers: Jan Mieszkowski and Julia Ng


Day One (Thursday, June 16)
The Soft Life of Plants: Toward a New Politics of Place — Anthony Curtis Adler
“Chosen Shape”: Ruskin’s Bulbs as Critique of the Market Economy — Ayşe Çelikkol
In the Forest, A Gnarled Tree: Benjamin, Brecht, wuyong — Julia Ng
The Understory: The Overstory and the Arboreal Abject — Robin Blyn


Day Two (Friday, June 17)
Poetic Resistance of African Vegetation — May Mergenthaler
Post-Colonial Botany — Jan Mieszkowski
Plants at the Margin — Anne-Lise François
Algorithmic Flowers and the Politics of Classification — Markus Hardtmann


Day Three (Saturday, June 18)
Désœuvrement, Singularity, and Naming: The Imperative of Unworking in Rousseau and Nancy —
Saul Anton
Companion Plant Reading: Vegetal Voices Across Languages — Astrid Møller-Olsen
Garden Songs — Dominik Zechner
Fruitonomy, Fruitography — Simon Horn

Chronotopia: Urban Space and Time in 21st-Century Sinophone Film and Fiction

In this themed cluster of PRISM: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature, we encounter wandering flats, ghostly spaces, and nostalgic fantasies that foster an interpretation of space and time as fundamentally entangled in the city.

My intro is available OA: https://read.dukeupress.edu/prism/article/19/1/1/304107/IntroductionChronotopia-Urban-Space-and-Time-in and the whole grand spacetime shebang goes like this:

(Introduction) Chronotopia: Urban Space and Time in Twenty-First-Century Sinophone Film and Fiction by Astrid Møller-Olsen

Multiple Time-Spaces: Dialogical Representation of the Global City in Chinese New Urban and Rural-Migrant Films by Jie Lu

Ghostly Chronotopes: Spectral Cityscapes in Post-2000 Chinese Literature by Winnie L. M. Yee

Spatiotemporal Explorations: Narrating Social Inequalities in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction by Frederike Schneider-Vielsäcker

Reconfiguring the Chronotope: Spatiotemporal Representations and Cultural Imaginations of Beijing in Mr. Six by Xuesong Shao and Sheldon Lu

Take the Elevator to Tomorrow: Mobile Space and Lingering Time in Contemporary Urban Fiction by Astrid Møller-Olsen

Space Oceans: SFRA 2022

Sensory perception, identity, and time: Yesterday, I was part of an amazing paper-session discussing ominous sounds (Bo Ærenlund Sørensen), representations of gender (Zhou Danxue), and chronopolitics (Erik Mo Welin) in contemporary Chinese SF.

I talked about the oceanic origins and possible futures of life – and about how astro-nautical realms are used as fruitful settings for narratives that explore postcolonial ecocriticism and posthuman understandings of being (see full abstract below).

Looking forward to following the incredibly rich programme of Futures from the Margins including Multispecies Futures, Afrofuturisms, Queer Futures and more!

Space Oceans: Astro+nautical convergences in Chinese SF

Since the beginning of the space age, the universe has been envisioned as a huge, mysterious ocean upon which the vessels of human explorers could continue their expansion of the known world into the future. Indeed, one of the most influential writers of 20th century science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke, wrote just as captivatingly of earth’s oceans as of outer space, and compared the two as frontier regions of knowledge and resources. 

Artwork by @ArghaManna

In both Chinese and English, nautical terminology is used to describe interstellar travel: spacecrafts are flying ships (飞船), with the wind-sails of ocean vessels exchanged for solar sails, and the people who pilot them are star sailors (astronauts) or universe-boat attendants (宇航员), while the Chinese name for the Milky Way, Silver River (银河), highlights the connection between the vast aquatic realm and the galactic void. This maritime vocabulary has spilled over into literary criticism, when Darko Suvin describes how science fiction contains “a curiosity about the unknown beyond the next mountain range (sea, ocean, solar system…)” and “the planetary island in the aether ocean,” or when historical periodization of both American and Chinese science fiction is being described as “waves.”

In this paper, I look at how contemporary Chinese writers tackle themes of colonialism and exploitation of natural resources, humanoid aliens and space-dwelling humans, as they explore the oceans of outer space. First, I look at how Hu Shaoyan 胡绍晏 imagines the universe itself as an intergalactic ocean. I read the human encounter with astro-jelly fish in her story “Submerged in a Flame Sea ” 火海潜航 as an example of what Astrida Neimanis calls the “hydrocommons of wet relations” albeit on an interstellar scale. Second, I turn to Chi Hui’s 迟卉 “Deep Sea Fish” 深海鱼 and the alien seascapes of Titan composed not of water but of methane. Here, I analyse colonialism of terrascaping and how the environment shapes the mind of the inhabitants even as they try to shape their environment. Finally, Regina Kanyu Wang’s 王侃瑜 “Return to Mi’an” 重返弥安 highlights the problematic notion of the frontier itself, with its violent ignorance and erasure of earlier inhabitants. I read the return of the surgically humanized protagonist to her own original ocean planet as an expression of human space travel as both a search of new frontiers and a longing for a homecoming to the ocean that spawned us.

Unknown Hong Kong Futures in Copenhagen

Last week, I participated in an exciting cross-disciplinary seminar on the Hong Kong protest at the University of Copenhagen. The blend of historians, film-, media- and literary scholars made for some interesting and fruitful out-of-the-box discussions about parallel and collaborative media spheres, eclecticism versus canonic imagery, and about silence as a polyphonic form of dissent.

Hong Kong Seminar

“The current political situation in Hong Kong has left many unknowns for the future of Hong Kong. The introduction of the national security legislation June 30th 2020, became the final death blow to the protest movement that had been sweeping through Hong Kong since the summer of 2019. Visible public unrest have had to take on new forms as traditional routes for protesting are cut off. Hong Kong is changing, leaving the futures of many people in a new and uncertain situation.

The situation in Hong Kong is affecting the entire world as Hong Kong’s newfound position as an exponent of the authoritarianism of the Chinese state requires reaction from the international community. Hong Kong society is no longer the same and the questions of the direction Hong Kong is taking lingers in the horizon. Where is Hong Kong heading? And how have the developments these past years affected the direction Hong Kong is taking

This seminar explores different aspects of contemporary Hong Kong society through the lens of cultural production, image politics, protest aesthetics, documentary filmmaking and social and political perspectives.”

Programme

Download all abstract here.

Monday May 23

10.00 – 10.10: Welcome remarks

10.10 – 11.30   Keynote (Chair: Jun Liu): Francis Lee, Chinese University of Hong Kong – Title: The Role of Digital Media in Large-Scale Protests in Hong Kong” (NB in room 23.0.49!):

11.30 – 12.30: Lunch break

12.30 – 14.00: Panel 1 (Chair: Mai Corlin) (NB in room 27.0.09!):

  1. Kristof van den Troost, Chinese University of Hong Kong – Title: The Censorship of Politics in Hong Kong Cinema: Past, Present, and Future”
  2. Chun Chun Ting, Nanyang Technological University – Title: Cinema of Death: Youth and Necropolitics in Hong Kong”
  3. Judith Pernin, independent scholar – Title: Filming the Individual and the Collective:
    The 2019 Pro-democracy Movement in Hong Kong Independent Documentaries”

14.00 – 14.30: BREAK

14.30 – 16.00 Panel 2 (Chair: Elena Meyer-Clement):

  1. Myunghee Lee, University of Copenhagen – Title: “Tactical Choices of Moderate Violence and the Escalation of Nonviolent Movements in Hong Kong”
  2. Dusica Ristivojevic, University of Helsinki – Title: Global circuits: Hong Kong, Protests, and Anglophone Mediascape in 2019
  3. Mai Corlin, University of Copenhagen – Title: “Front Liners and the Images of Protest in the 2019 Hong Kong Protest Movement”

Tuesday May 24th

10.00 – 11.30: Keynote (Chair: Ravinder Kaur): Jeffrey Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine – Title: Hong Kong’s Struggle in Historical and Comparative Perspective” (NB in room 23.0.49!)

11.30 – 12.30: Lunch break

12.30 – 14.00: Panel 3 (Chair: Astrid Møller-Olsen)(NB in room 27.0.09!)

  1. Michael Tsang, University of London – Title: “Hong Kong in the World; the World in Hong Kong; Reading Dung Kai-cheung’s Hong Kong Type Allegorically”
  2. Winnie Yee, University of Hong Kong – Title: Objects and Matter as Affect: Revisiting the Storied Matter of Hong Kong’s 2019 Social Protests”
  3. Astrid Møller-Olsen, Lund University and Stavanger University – Title: Haunted Habitat: Invisible Protesters in Dorothy Tse’s Fictional Hong Kong

14.00-14.30: BREAK

14.30 – 16.00: Closed Roundtable (Chair:  Prof. Emeritus Jørgen Delman) (Note: By invitation only)

Speakers  

  • Francis L. F. Lee, Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Jeffrey Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine
  • Kristof van den Troost, Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Chun Chun Ting, Nanyang Technological University
  • Judith Pernin, Independent scholar
  • Myunghee Lee, University of Copenhagen
  • Dusica Ristivojevic, University of Helsinki
  • Michael Tsang, University of London
  • Winnie Yee, University of Hong Kong
  • Astrid Møller-Olsen, Lund University and Stavanger University
  • Mai Corlin, University of Copenhagen

The organizing committee:
Mai Corlin, China Studies, University of Copenhagen
Bo Ærenlund Sørensen, China Studies, University of Copenhagen

Organized by: ThinkChina, Asian Dynamics Initiative, and the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen.

Wang Xiaobo: Sex as Power

Last week I had a conversation on Danish radio about Wang Xiaobo’s 王小波 ‘The Golden Age’ 黄金时代 and ‘Gentle like Water’ 似水柔情 recently translated into Danish by Sidse Laugesen for Korridor publishers.

We discussed sex as an arena for power struggles as well as a last expression of individual freedom under repressive conditions and forced collectivisation.

In particular, I read Wang’s focus on illicit sexualities that deviate from the perceived norm -such as non-monogamous or homosexual relationships- as cynical but in some sense hopeful explorations of bodily freedom in situations of extreme control, in this case prison (in ‘Gentle like Water’) and rural work camps for ‘educated youth’ 知青 (in ‘The Golden Age’).