Future un-imagined

Alternative Title


Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Hong Kong Cultural Studies Bulletin = 香港文化硏究

Publication Date

Winter 1995



First Page


Last Page



The Programme for Hong Kong Cultural Studies = 香港文化硏究計劃


What will happen to Hong Kong in 1997? With time running indifferently short for Hong Kong nowadays, this is a question being asked increasingly by (because increasingly interesting for) visitors who are at most distantly related to the destiny of the territory. For the majority of us living in Hong Kong —— whose collective identity is not without its own crisis —— the only indisputable historical lesson we learn through the growing but largely predictable tides of the transitional period (1984-1997) is, arguably, the uninteresting fact that we, as a people, have been left with little options but to survive the political turmoil and cultural loss we have experienced in the past decade or so. And yet, despite constant invocation of crisis through our imaginary world of signification, everyone passing through Hong Kong in its final transitory stage, whether local or not, Chinese or not, would be amazed by the overall social order and growing cultural vitality one encounters in the non-political domains of its lifeworld during these last colonial days. This common celebration of the status quo has been continuously reinforced by the general political promise (we would all like to draw on) for the Hong Kong "way of life" to prevail in the next fifty years and beyond. Despite an unmistakable tendency of disillusionment and cynicism among the public, such a promise, along with its unholy celebration by many, has long since been assimilated into the symbolic networks of the dominant cultural hegemony. It is now the driving force of our lived world of signification, some say our "lifestyle", saturating effectively our collective will to imagination for a lovable future. It runs through the mainstream of our social imagination, and subjects it to the accepted logic of a booming world of fetishized cultural signification, thus projecting the symbolic-ideological message of our best (success) story onto an exponential trajectory.

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1995 The Programme for Hong Kong Cultural Studies. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

This is an adapted and much shorter version of a paper delivered in the Harvard Workshop on Chinese Cultural Criticism on "Culture, Media, and Society in Contemporary Hong Kong" held in June 1995 at Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University.



Recommended Citation

Chan, S. C.-K. (1995). Future un-imagined. Hong Kong Cultural Studies Bulletin, 4, 20-26.

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