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International Symposium on Cloud, Heat, Sea, Wind in the Light of Ecological Civilization

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Program on 30 April (Saturday) Hong Kong Time


9 am Welcome and Introduction

Panel 1: Activism, Exoticism, and Multispecies Imaginations

Moderator: Kwai-cheung Lo

9:05 am (9:05 pm, Friday, East Coast Time) Carlos Rojas, “An Ecological Analysis of Environmental Activism in China”

9:25 am (8:25 pm, Friday, Central Time) Chuen-Fung Wong, “Rethinking the Nature in China’s ‘Minority’ Musical Exoticism”

9:45 am Emily Yu Zong, “Of Meat, Plant, and Soil: Multispecies Imaginations of Hong Kong”

10:05-10:35 am Discussion


Panel 2: Air, Wind-Water, Sound, and Space in Ecological Crisis

Moderator: Howard Yuen-fung Choy

11:00 am Winnie L.M. Yee, “Breathing and Singing in the Air: Some Preliminary Thoughts on Literary and Visual Narratives of Air in Post-socialist China”

11:20 am Kiu-wai Chu, “Feng Shui and the Civil Alternative Eco-civilisation: Geomancy and Ecology in Chinese Cinema”

11:40 am Enoch Yee-lok Tam, “The Sound Ecology in Hong Kong Ethnographic Documentaries”

12:00 noon Wai-ping Yau, “Chinese SF in the Anthropocene”

12:20 – 1: 00 pm Discussion


Panel 3: Governmentality and China’s Ecological Civilization

Moderator: Jessica Yeung

3:30 pm (9:30 am, Central Europe Time) Zimu Zhang, “Green Elegies: Ecofeminist Reading of Toxicity and Trauma in the Making of Chinese Ecological Civilization”

3:50 pm (8:50 am, UK Time) Victor Fan, “Ecology: From Governmentality to Interdependencies”

4:10 pm Kwai-Cheung Lo, “China’s Cloud Control in the Shadows of Ecological Civilization”

4:30-5:00 pm Discussion

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Seeing feng shui more than just superstition or a form of pseudo-science, this chapter explores how feng shui and Chinese geomancy plays a role in the building of a civil alternative ecological civilisation in Mainland China, Hong Kong and the broader Chinese speaking world. The discussion will focus on two particular aspects of feng shui, both feng shui as a practice, and feng shui in cinematic representations. Highlighting contemporary practitioners’ interpretation and practices of feng shui, with an emphasis on wind (feng) and water (shui), this chapter examines the role of contemporary feng shui as a form of eco-mediation, a mean of siting, designing and restructuring space and environment organically to bring about balance, order, health and other positive impacts to the human and nonhuman inhabitants. Secondly, focusing on a range of fictional Hong Kong films since the 1990s, such as Wisely’s Bury Me High (衛斯理之霸王卸甲, 1991), My Lucky Star (行運超人,1993), Two Wrongs Make A Right (天生不對, 2017), and recent documentary films Many Undulating Things (湧浪之間, 2019) and Wang Shui’s From Its Mouth Came a River of High-End Residential Appliances (口中溢出一河的高档家居用品, 2018), this paper examines how cinematic texts reflect feng shui’s mediation which shapes the dynamic relationships among humans, nonhumans, and the five elements, in the architectural and urban spaces of the postcolonial Chinese city. Eventually, the chapter argues that modern theories and practices of Feng Shui do not merely facilitate more ecologically oriented relationships between living beings and spatial environments, they also contribute to the creation of an affective world of multispecies entanglement at a time characterized by climate change and environmental crises, thus contributing towards the building of a bottom-up, civil alternative ecological civilisation.



Kiu-wai Chu (BA London; MPhil Cantab; PhD HK) is Assistant Professor in Environmental Humanities and Chinese Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He was Postdoctoral Fellows in University of Zurich and Western Sydney University. His research focuses on environmental humanities, ecocriticism, and contemporary cinema and visual art in Asia. He is an Executive Councillor of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE-US), and Living Lexicon editor of the open-access journal Environmental Humanities (Duke University Press). His work has appeared in Transnational Ecocinema; Ecomedia: Key Issues; Journal of Chinese Cinemas; Asian Cinema; Chinese Environmental Humanities; photographies; Screen; and elsewhere.



In “The Ecosystem Is an Apparatus” [2019], Thomas Pringle traces the term ecology to its use in cybernetics, social sciences, and critical theories and points out that it is often used to indicate the “interactivity and biophysical reality” (53). In other words, many ecological thinkers still presume that natural, human, and technical existences are a priori individuated and mutually insurmountable, and their coexistence is instrumentalized for governmentality and management. Meanwhile, the more recently proposed notion of shengtai wenming (ecocivilization), which has its root in the neo-Confucian debate from the tenth to seventeenth centuries, largely reiterates ecological thinking in anthropocentric terms and is symptomatic of the human desire for planetary control. In my presentation, I will conduct a comparative study of Buddhist ecological thinking and its Deleuzian counterpart and reconsider relationality in accordance with the principle of dependent originations. By rethinking natural, human, and technical existences as an assemblage of interdependent conditions that are constantly in a process of interbeing, interbecoming, and interaffecting, we can become mindful of the damage our decisions are to their interexistences when we see them as instruments of governmentality and management.


Victor Fan is Reader in Film and Media Philosophy at the Department of Film Studies, King’s College London and a film festival consultant. Fan graduated with a Ph.D. from the Film Studies Program and the Comparative Literature Department of Yale University, and an MFA in Film and Television Productions at School of Cinema-Television, University of Southern California. He is the author of Cinema Approaching Reality: Locating Chinese Film Theory (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) and Extraterritoriality: Locating Hong Kong Cinema and Media (Edinburg University Press, 2019). His forthcoming book, Cinema Illuminating Reality: Media Philosophy through Buddhism, will be published in 2022 by University of Minnesota Press. His articles have been published in peer-review journals including World Picture Journal, Camera Obscura, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Screen, Film History: An International Journal, CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, anthologies A Companion to Rainer Werner Fassbinder and American and Chinese-Language Cinemas, film magazines 24 Images: Cinéma, Dianying yishu [Film Art], Zihua [Zifaa or Word blossoms], and Siyi.  His film The Well was an official selection of the São Paolo International Film Festival; it was also screened at the Anthology Film Archives, the Japan Society and the George Eastman House.



William Burroughs in “The Limits of Control” points out that there is always an implicit impasse in all control systems: control mechanism needs opposition that it cannot completely control; when there is no more opposition, and when control is complete, the fulfilment would render the system meaningless. There is nothing more incomplete or unfulfilling than weather control, which is called geoengineering, a technology that helps human to modify and manipulate the weather. For decades, China has been investing heavily in this technology, resulting with owning one of the world’s most advanced weather modification programs, even though the definitive scientific evidence for the efficacy of cloud seeding, rainmaking, rain-suppression, or hail-suppression remains debatable and undetermined. China’s geoengineering endeavours do not only reveal the authorities’ plans to control the clouds in order to regulate the weather, but also their desire to take the form of the clouds by assuming a privileged, transcendent vantage point up in the sky over the world (the fantasy of political elite to play god by seeing the world in its entirety objectively, understanding the real and explaining all).  The state project of ecological civilization emerged as a top-down model built upon the Chinese socialist ideologies with the emphasis on the mutual compatibility of economic growth, environmental sustainability and social justice. The top-down, nontransparent, and non-participatory policies single-mindedly pursue the stipulated objectives but may possibly create second-order problems and unintended cloudy consequences, other than designating the parallel universe of the political leaders’ cloud perspectives and the world on the ground. The image or metaphor of the clouds is also manifested in China’s determination to monitor the cloud computing industry. For competitive and governance reasons, Beijing is eager to bolster the capabilities of Chinese cloud companies, like Alibaba Cloud, Huawei and Tencent. After all, surveillance technologies and digital security rely upon an efficient cloud system. While cloud computing promises the dematerialization of data storage and the ubiquitous connectivity of frictionless computation in all spaces, its nature and infrastructure cannot be obfuscated as shapeless, amorphous clouds but remains as stratified grid-network constructions and data hubs on some real location that require immense amounts of power to keep them running and are simultaneously emitting carbon dioxide. By no means is China as an authoritarian country the only state in the world that manipulates the clouds in terms of modifying weather and doing digital surveillance. But China serves as a good model, not only given its sheer size, growth rate and volatile situation, to examine how the combination of geoengineering and digital technologies impacts on cloud control. Clouds could mean both connection and isolation, as if China wants global trade and economic self-sufficiency at the same time. But the paradox is in order to make cloud control effective, no one can isolate one cloud from another. Etymologically, control means stopping the roll or the wheel. As long as there’s no way to stop cloud rolling, control can never succeed but is self-motivated to perpetuate.



Kwai-cheung Lo is Professor and Head of the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University. He is the author of Excess and Masculinity in Asian Cultural Productions, and Chinese Face/Off: The Transnational Popular Culture of Hong Kong, and co-editor of Chinese Shock of the Anthropocene: Image, Music and Text in the Age of Climate Change.



Environmental activism involves a complex interplay between natural formations, on one hand, and socio-political ones, on the other. Even as environmental initiatives attempt to ameliorate the effects of human activity on the environment, those same initiatives often add yet another layer to this human-nonhuman interface. Although environmental activism focuses on the complex ways in which human activity has altered and disrupted natural ecosystems, another part of this equation involves the similarly complex sociopolitical ecosystems out of which these environmental initiatives emerge in the first place. In contemporary China, for instance, the state’s Ecological Civilization campaign represents a concerted attempt to use state power to advance a series of environmental objectives, while an array of “non-state actors” advance a set of parallel, yet nominally separate, agendas. The latter include international NGOs as well as an array of domestic organizations that include “social service organizations” (shehui fuwu jigou), “social groups” (shehui tuanti), “foundations” (jijinhui), and so forth.  Each of these nominally “non-state” organizations, however, necessarily has a close and complicated relationship to both the Chinese state and to a separate set of economic forces (both domestic and global).

In this paper, I will adopt a set of environmental approaches to examine the complex sociopolitical ecosystem within which environmental activism in contemporary China plays out, where state, “non-state,” and commercial entities, including both domestic and international entities, all exist within a delicate ecological balance. 


Carlos Rojas is Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; and Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University. His research focuses on issues of gender and visuality, corporeality and infection, and nationalism and diaspora studies, particularly as they relate to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the global Chinese diaspora. He works primarily in the early modern, modern, and contemporary periods. He is the author of three books: The Naked Gaze: Reflection on Chinese Modernity, The Great Wall: A Cultural History, and Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation. He is the co-editor of five books: Writing Taiwan: A New Literary History, Rethinking Chinese Popular Culture: Cannibalizations of the Canon, The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas, The Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures, and Ghost Protocol: Development and Displacement in Global China. He is also the translator of five volumes of literary fiction, including Yu Hua’s Brothers, Yan Lianke’s Lenin’s Kisses, The Four Books, The Explosion Chronicles, and Marrow, and Malaysian Chinese author Ng Kim Chew’s Slow Boat to China and Other Stories.



Hong Kong independent documentary filmmakers have been attempting to articulate new human-space relationships for more than two decades, a trend that was sparked by anti-capitalism and anti-globalization movements in the 2000s and 2010s. In this series of movements, the public is challenged to rethink ideas about public/urban space, place, local identity, and community. From then on, the inspired documentary filmmakers shifted their focus from the urban happenings at the city center to the local communities of the urban margins. Three ethnographic documentaries, Chan Ho-lun and Chloe Lai’s Rhymes of Shui Hau (水口婆婆的山歌, 2017),  Ma Chi-hang’s Ballad on the Shore (岸上漁歌, 2017) and Cheuk Cheung’s I Wish (風調雨順, 2021), are examined in this paper which shows the interconnectedness between rural lives and nature by capturing the sound ecology.

Sound ecology seeks to embody an ecological rationality aiming at understanding who we are in the natural world, and how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, by investigating the sound we make. By this, the first part of this paper explores how people in rural villages, primarily the elderly females, understand their place in nature by the seasonal changes and migrations of birds recorded in Rhymes of Shui Hau. Second, this paper carefully examines the fishermen’s songs from Ballad on the Shore and shows how they were closely related to the formation of the local fishermen community. Thirdly, this paper argues that the utterances of worship and prayers found in folk rituals can be included in a sound ecology. This paper proposes that the rituals found in I Wish serve as means of reaching out to a horizon larger than human life. Through worshipping deities, in our case Tin Hau, humans are connected to the unknown elements of nature. If this sound ecology as mediation allows human beings to broaden our horizons as a species within the gigantic nature, then the ethnographic documentary is a mediation of contemplation to challenge the audience to confront the ecological rationality embodied in the sound ecology.


Enoch Yee-lok Tam is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Studies at Lingnan University. His research interests are Hong Kong cinema, Hong Kong literature, Chinese cinema, and independent cinema. He is currently writing a book about Hong Kong independent cinema. He has published on Hong Kong cinema, Hong Kong literature and Chinese cinema. His works have appeared in Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture and Ex-position, among other places.



This paper concerns the discourse of the nature in the repertoire of post-1950s Chinese instrumental music that seeks to represent, sample, and appropriate the music of the non-majority Han peoples, or the “minorities,” as identified in modern China. This oeuvre of “minority”-themed composition showcases overt exoticism that is conceived in ethnic and racial terms. “Minority” musicians and their music are routinely heard as possessing certain primordial traits—styles, instruments, forms, and ethos—that bring them closer to the “nature.” A quick scan over the titles of these exotic compositions reveals that most are replete with programmatic references to mountains, rivers, and landscapes, conceiving the creativity of the non-Han peoples in the realm of the physical and the natural. In my presentation, we will listen to musical moments and strategies where the nature is evoked through such exotic discourse. I suggest that “minority” musical exoticism sustains and expands despite the more recent authenticist craze for the so-called “original ecology” in both Han and non-Han performing arts; it remains deeply ingrained in China’s postmodernist search for musical exotics in the first two decades of the new century.


Chuen-fung Wong is Associate Professor of world and ethnomusicology at Macalester College. He is an ethnomusicologist who studies music in a number of Asian traditions. His primary research interest is the music and performing arts of the Uyghur. He has written on topics ranging from musical modernity and minority nationalism to cultural revival and exoticism. Wong is the author of Even in the Rain: Uyghur Music in Modern China (2022). He is also the author and editor of three other books, Silk and Bamboo: Instrumental Music from the Chinese South (2022), Soundscapes in Chinese Music (2019), and Listening to Chinese Music (2009). His essays, translations, and other writings have appeared in major journals and collected volumes. Wong is recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, Hong Kong Research Grants Council grants, the Rulan Chao Pian Prize for the best article on Chinese music, Outstanding Young Researcher Award (HKBU), among other recognitions. He was president of the Association for Chinese Music Research and editor of the ACMR Newsletter. He holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from UCLA. At Macalester College, Wong teaches courses in world music and ethnomusicology. He is founder and director of the Macalester Asian Music Ensemble, which performs chamber genres and repertoires from across Asia.



This paper discusses the work of three Chinese science fiction writers from the perspective of a deepening ecological crisis that urges us to understand the close connections between society and ecology, to rethink anthropogenic practices, and to imagine an alternative future. Special attention will be paid to whether and how this ecological crisis is understood as multifaceted along the lines of social interaction, political economy, capitalist mechanisms and the interstate system. In Liu Cixin’s (劉慈欣) trilogy Remembrance of the Earth’s Past (地球往事三部曲), also known as the Three-Body series (三體系列) (2008–2011), one of the origins of the never-ending inter-galactic wars can be traced back to a Chinese scientist who, sharing the environmental concerns raised in Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, decides to seek help from an extraterrestrial civilisation out of despair at the ecological and human depravation witnessed during the Cultural Revolution. But the universe turns out to be a ‘dark forest’ where preventive warfare rages, reminiscent of a Hobbesian conception of international relations that pits great powers against each other in their quest for lebensraum and natural resources. In Hao Jingfang’s (郝景芳) 2014 novelette Folding Beijing (北京摺叠), the city folds itself into three different spaces at regular intervals to provide (unequal) access to sun, air and other resources for the ruling elite, the professionals, and the workers who are predominantly engaged in the waste processing industry. As the working-class protagonist trespasses the tightly policed boundaries between the different spaces, we get a glimpse of the changing cityscape as a nexus between ecology and capital, between government and international politics. In Chen Qiufan’s (陳楸帆, also known as Stanley Chan) 2013 novel The Waste Tide (荒潮), the female protagonist is a young migrant worker toiling in one of the many e-waste processing plants in Silicon Island, a fictional version of the world’s largest e-waste dumping ground at Guiyu in the province of Guangdong. A neurological virus transmitted through e-waste turns her into a cyborg that leads a rebellion against the exploitative plant owners. Juxtaposing these works of Chinese SF against the Chinese government’s conception of ecological civilisation, this paper aims to explore forms of agency that address the multifaceted nature of our ecological crisis.


Wai-ping Yau is Associate Professor in the Department of Translation, Interpretation and Intercultural Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research areas are translation studies, adaptation studies, Chinese and Hong Kong literature and cinema. His essays appeared in anthologies, such as Chinese Shock of the Anthropocene: Image, Music and Text in the Age of Climate Change, The Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation, A Companion to Wong Kar-wai, A Companion to Translation Studies. He is also the translator of Dung Kai-cheung’s The History of the Adventures of Vivi and Vera.



We are increasingly at risk because of climate change, industrial pollution, the scarcity of clean air, and other natural and human disasters. This paper looks at the representation of air in light of its materiality and the dynamic imagination associated with it. In its discussion of “air” as storied matter, this paper reveals the psychological struggles of Chinese migrant workers and exposes the repressive measures that transform workers into a faceless crowd.


Serpil Oppermann has described storied matter as an “an ontological performance of the world in its ongoing articulation” (149). It is created by narrative trends that focus on evolution and dissolution, and open up possibilities for non-hierarchical, cross-scale ecological engagements and interactions between people and other entities and forces. Storied matter, in other words, is a way of reimaging the collective story that takes into account multiple becomings and conflicting relations. It enables us to transcend our contemporary situation and the current knowledge systems that perpetuate human-centred approaches (Oppermann, 10). The polluted smog that often engulfs China, for example, can become the focus, rather than the background, of our attention.


This paper looks at selected documentaries and literary texts about air pollution to illuminate air not as a mere externalized object of scientific investigation but as an intrinsic element of human knowledge and phenomenological experience. In Chai Jing’s documentary Under the Dome (Qiongding zhi xia 穹頂之下, 2015), Chen Qiufan’s novella “The Smog Society” (Mai , 2015), and Wang Jiuliang’s documentary Plastic China (Suliao Wangguo 塑料王國, 2016), the slow violence of air pollution reveals injuries that mutate over time. Pollution is storied matter, which represents the existential condition of gloom that blankets the lives of migrant workers. This storied matter can be seen as the sum of the factors that have contributed to the hard lives of the migrant workers —their tactics for survival, their dashed dreams, and their exploitation. A new lexicon is proposed to understand the struggle of migrant workers and also their power to co-create a sustainable and respectful relationship between humans and natural elements. This new lexicon is premised on the recognition of the many entities, dimensions and roles of air, the many facets of the human condition, and the many faces of Chinese laborers whose acquired ferality offers a means to combat the overwhelming forces of urbanization.


Winnie L. M. Yee is senior lecturer and program coordinator of the MA Program in Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Hong Kong. In 2019–20 she is a fellow in Rachel Carson Center for the Environment and Society at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Her research interests are ecocriticism, Hong Kong culture, contemporary Chinese literature and film, and independent cinema. She is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between ecopoetics and Chinese literature and independent film scene. Her works have appeared in Cultural Studies, PRISM, Journal of Asian Cinema, Communication and the Public, among other places.



The nomenclature of the Chinese Ecological Civilization discourse can be traced to a direct translation of a Soviet communist scientific article, where the original Russian word “ecological culture” was replaced with “ecological civilization” in Chinese (Marinelli, 2018, p. 373).This contextual adoption and linguistic choice in the translation paved the way for rendering “ecological civilization” as a discourse that has been used in the framing of Chinese communism and socialism under the ideological flagship of ecological Marxism in contrast with Western capitalism. They also sustain a visuality that draws a continuum between the harmonious relationship of humans and nature inscribed in traditional Chinese culture and philosophy, with the obvious environmental degradation caused by Western led industrialization, although the idyllic “unity of humans and heaven/nature” ( tian ren he yi , 天人合一) was heavily questioned by sociologists such as Yü Ying-shih (2016) and Heiner Roetz (2013). The popular usage of “civilization” could be found in 1988 TV documentary series, River Elegy (河殤)which was a nation wide cultural sensation. The TV series had made explicit comparisons between two civilizations: traditional Chinese culture as inland, stagnant and conservative, symbolized by the “yellow civilization” of the Yellow River, and the “blue civilization” symbolized by ocean expeditions and commerce activities led by the western countries. Despite the reductionist and romantic view of the two civilizations, the film’s vision for China as willing to embrace the blue civilization seems half met after three decades, when China has become the largest world economy and crucial geopolitical actor in transborder projects like the maritime silk road. Embedded in a similar developmentalist and technocentric civilization view, we may regard the ecological civilization as a “green civilization”, which is a remedy and a middle way for the collisions and frictions between the blue and yellow civilizations, to sustain continuous development against growing toxicity, catastrophes and traumas manifesting in both the human and more-than-human worlds in the (Chinese) Anthropocene.

Through an analytical reading of several visual-cultural productions on Chinese migrant workers, I argue that an ecofeminist perspective is needed to disclose the hierarchical and patriarchal configuration of the ecological/green civilization discourse, in which industrial migrant workers, seen as low-end populations, are often ruled out of the making of many Chinese eco-smart cities. I suggest to regard migrant workers, particularly female workers’ “trans-corporeality” (Alaimo, 2018; Zhou and Zheng, 2021), compounded with polluted environments both in coastal factory cities and inland villages charged with toxicity, trauma and grief, as ecomediation (Cubitt, 2016, 2017; Litzinger and Yang, 2020) which reconfigures a grassroot ecological civilization.

Alaimo, Stacy. (2018). Trans-corporeality. Posthuman glossary, 435-438.
Cubitt, Sean. (2016). Finite media: Duke University Press.
Litzinger, Ralph, & Yang, Fan. (2020). Eco-Media Events in China: From Yellow Eco-Peril to Media Materialism. Environmental Humanities, 12(1), 1-22.
Marinelli, Maurizio. (2018). How to Build a 'Beautiful China' in the Anthropocene. The Political Discourse and the Intellectual Debate on Ecological Civilization. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 23(3), 365-386.
Roetz, Heiner. (2013). Chinese 'Unity of Man and Nature': Reality or Myth? In Nature, Environment and Culture in East Asia (pp. 23-39): Brill.
Xiaojing, Zhou, & Xiaoqiong, Zheng. (2021). Migrant Ecologies: Zheng Xiaoqiong's Women Migrant Workers: Lexington Books.
Yü, Ying-shih. (2016). 1. Between the Heavenly and the Human. In Chinese History and Culture :Sixth Century B.C.E. to Seventeenth Century, Volume 1 (pp. 1-19): Columbia University Press.


Zimu Zhang is a researcher, curator and moving image practitioner. She completed her PhD research on Anthropocene visuality and countervisuality in contemporary Chinese visual culture in 2022 at School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. She is the recipient of the 2022 Landhaus fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. She is also a member of the Wanwu Practice Group that focuses on ecology and art research in east Asia. Together with friends, She co-founded Moonshine Screening Project (2017-2019, Guangzhou SJT co-governance space) and Black Tent Theatre (2021-, Guangdong Times Museum), focusing on the ecology and sociality of moving image and moving image activities.



This paper analyses a materialist politics of multispecies relations in three ecocritical texts from Hong Kong: Fruit Chan’s movie Hollywood Hong Kong (2001), Dorothy Tse’s short story “Bitter Melon” (2014), and Kwai-Cheung Lo’s short story “田在市” (“Farm in the City” 2014). These three narratives express shared anxiety over mainland political control and capitalist development in Hong Kong that damage rural ecology and minority life. Reflecting on the porosity of the body in relation to recent scholarship in multispecies studies, I discuss how these texts evoke fleshy bodies – as meat, plant, and soil – to explore a zone of undecidability between human and nonhuman species and make visible the body’s relational materiality that is always in excess of top-down political and economic codes. Chan’s movie deploys the corporeal aesthetic of disjuncture, eroticism, and monstrosity to ponder over Hong Kong’s unknown future, while Tse’s story parallels state penetration and the sexual politics of flesh to shape the city-scape of Hong Kong into a bitter melon of toxic high-rises and haunting memories. Lo’s story portrays organic farming and soil integrity to envision multispecies practices in which the body attunes to ecological embeddedness and holistic flourishing. These narratives, I suggest, not only tell multispecies stories of Hong Kong’s changing locality, but also the ethical and political challenges and possibilities of actualising a more balanced ecosystem. 




Dr Emily Yu Zong received her PhD from The University of Queensland, Australia and is currently an assistant professor at the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University. Her research interests include Asian diaspora literature and culture, ethnic ecocriticism, and multispecies storytelling. Her publications appear in Critique, ARIEL, ISLE, LIT, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Journal of Intercultural Studies, The Cambridge History of the Australian Novel, among other venues.

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