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postgraduate thesis: Embedded coloniality in Hong Kong: from flower cultivation to culture-led urban renewal in Mong Kok FlowerMarket

TitleEmbedded coloniality in Hong Kong: from flower cultivation to culture-led urban renewal in Mong Kok FlowerMarket
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Ho, K. [何嘉妍]. (2012). Embedded coloniality in Hong Kong : from flower cultivation to culture-led urban renewal in Mong Kok Flower Market. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4833007
AbstractAccording to the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) preservation project launched in 2009, the vibrant Flower Market in Mong Kok, a long-time industry production, wholesale and retail hub, is going to be remade into a heritage consumption area. The economic network of an entire industry is drastically re-commodified into consumable heritage space, with disregard to the socio-economic necessity of the Flower Market as a place for quotidian culture and economy, and flower cultivation as a significant part of agriculture in Hong Kong. Although the preservation project launched by the URA is still in land acquisition process by the time this dissertation is completed, gentrification around the Flower Market has already started. Business environment in the market is increasingly difficult because of this kind of urban renewal in the name of cultural preservation, without real regard for quotidian tradition, culture and way of life. Government policy and previous scholarship have paid little attention to the needs and contributions of producers and sellers in the flower industry in understanding the Mong Kok Flower Market heritage preservation project, which this research aims to rectify. This dissertation studies the history, operation and transformation of the Mong Kok Flower Market and flower cultivation in Hong Kong. Through investigating the power dynamics between ordinary people, local elites and the government in the process, this research discovers a kind of subjugated knowledge, purposely neglected, but is in fact of great importance to the understanding of how coloniality (colonial mentality) is embedded in the daily operations of power in colonial and postcolonial Hong Kong. This implies that the official end of colonialism does not automatically allow for the end of coloniality, which this research discovers to be still evidently embedded in Hong Kong’s “governmentality.” In fact, coloniality can be glimpsed through discovering its embedded operations in the daily operations and transformations of the Mong Kok Flower Market and flower cultivation in Hong Kong. My thesis engages in a process of decolonisation, which aims to explore embedded coloniality as a method of disclosing unarticulated and unconscious values and mentalities hidden in institutional practices that have been used to govern Hong Kong. The government has implanted this mentality in a process in which social injustice becomes institutionalised into well-accepted values in daily practice, and in this way, coloniality becomes normalised and legitimised. The government had deployed unjust social relations into executive protocols, bureaucratic procedures and laws governing the government and semi-governmental bodies affecting everyday life. The theoretical framework of this study is principally drawn from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Ranajit Guha’s subaltern studies theories, which articulate the nature of subaltern people and their power dynamics vis-?-vis the elite. This study is structured through an examination of three aspects related to the flower industry: the first emphasises the dissipation of flower cultivation in the New Territories in relation to the collaboration between the government and the rural elites; the second highlights law enforcement patrols in the flower market wherein the government uses street management tactics rather than responding to the industry’s requests for a permanent wholesale market; and the third examines the heritage preservation of several buildings in the market and a revitalisation project in the vicinity as a way of beautifying the area, yet in these projects the government failed to engage the people in the industry in a democratic process of decision-making to determine the future of the market. My research explores three key issues relating to subaltern studies: (1) how coloniality is negotiated, articulated, forced and infused into the flower industry; (2) the impact of coloniality imposed on the flower industry through analysing its historic and cultural context; and (3) to what extent does the government use public policies (i.e. land policy, hawker control policy, heritage preservation policy) to facilitate the economic progress of the city. This study adopts a qualitative approach, using multiple methods such as textual analysis, ethnography including participant observation in the flower market, and semi-structured in-depth interviews with workers in the flower industry, including farmers, wholesalers, retailers and floral designers, etc. I performed participant observation through working as an assistant in a retail flower shop before Valentine’s Day which allowed me to gain first-hand information about flower shop operation and the customers’ perception of flowers. Through these approaches and methods my thesis explores the flower culture of Hong Kong and the power dynamics between the government, elites and ordinary people. The findings of the thesis reveal that the government often adopted negotiation as a means of governance. For instance, the government used various methods to incorporate local resistance as a way to facilitate development, but at the same time, ignored the needs of the flower industry, such as the need (1) to relax land administration rules which would have allowed larger pieces of land for flower cultivation, (2) to offer an appropriate site for a permanent flower market, and (3) to widen the pavement to solve the problem of street obstruction. Instead, the government managed people’s request for a permanent flower market. Law enforcement officers were employed to control the street and limit illegitimate use. I found that a hegemonic decision-making process prevailed, and the government tended to value professional advice but refused to seriously consider the voice of the people. These findings reveal the unwritten power dynamics between the government, elites and ordinary people and add variations to subaltern studies which merely focus on the agency of subalterns. This research is one of the first few local attempts to study the flower industry through its historical and cultural formation. By exploring the point of view of subaltern people vis-?-vis the power dynamics between the government and local elites in executive protocols, bureaucratic practices and laws, this research aims to adopt subaltern studies in understanding quotidian culture, and to make a significant contribution to postcolonial studies and urban studies.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectFloriculture - China - Hong Kong.
Urban renewal - China - Hong Kong.
Markets - China - Hong Kong.
Dept/ProgramComparative Literature

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorSzeto, MM-
dc.contributor.advisorMarchetti, G-
dc.contributor.authorHo, Kar-yin-
dc.contributor.author何嘉妍-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationHo, K. [何嘉妍]. (2012). Embedded coloniality in Hong Kong : from flower cultivation to culture-led urban renewal in Mong Kok Flower Market. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4833007-
dc.description.abstractAccording to the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) preservation project launched in 2009, the vibrant Flower Market in Mong Kok, a long-time industry production, wholesale and retail hub, is going to be remade into a heritage consumption area. The economic network of an entire industry is drastically re-commodified into consumable heritage space, with disregard to the socio-economic necessity of the Flower Market as a place for quotidian culture and economy, and flower cultivation as a significant part of agriculture in Hong Kong. Although the preservation project launched by the URA is still in land acquisition process by the time this dissertation is completed, gentrification around the Flower Market has already started. Business environment in the market is increasingly difficult because of this kind of urban renewal in the name of cultural preservation, without real regard for quotidian tradition, culture and way of life. Government policy and previous scholarship have paid little attention to the needs and contributions of producers and sellers in the flower industry in understanding the Mong Kok Flower Market heritage preservation project, which this research aims to rectify. This dissertation studies the history, operation and transformation of the Mong Kok Flower Market and flower cultivation in Hong Kong. Through investigating the power dynamics between ordinary people, local elites and the government in the process, this research discovers a kind of subjugated knowledge, purposely neglected, but is in fact of great importance to the understanding of how coloniality (colonial mentality) is embedded in the daily operations of power in colonial and postcolonial Hong Kong. This implies that the official end of colonialism does not automatically allow for the end of coloniality, which this research discovers to be still evidently embedded in Hong Kong’s “governmentality.” In fact, coloniality can be glimpsed through discovering its embedded operations in the daily operations and transformations of the Mong Kok Flower Market and flower cultivation in Hong Kong. My thesis engages in a process of decolonisation, which aims to explore embedded coloniality as a method of disclosing unarticulated and unconscious values and mentalities hidden in institutional practices that have been used to govern Hong Kong. The government has implanted this mentality in a process in which social injustice becomes institutionalised into well-accepted values in daily practice, and in this way, coloniality becomes normalised and legitimised. The government had deployed unjust social relations into executive protocols, bureaucratic procedures and laws governing the government and semi-governmental bodies affecting everyday life. The theoretical framework of this study is principally drawn from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Ranajit Guha’s subaltern studies theories, which articulate the nature of subaltern people and their power dynamics vis-?-vis the elite. This study is structured through an examination of three aspects related to the flower industry: the first emphasises the dissipation of flower cultivation in the New Territories in relation to the collaboration between the government and the rural elites; the second highlights law enforcement patrols in the flower market wherein the government uses street management tactics rather than responding to the industry’s requests for a permanent wholesale market; and the third examines the heritage preservation of several buildings in the market and a revitalisation project in the vicinity as a way of beautifying the area, yet in these projects the government failed to engage the people in the industry in a democratic process of decision-making to determine the future of the market. My research explores three key issues relating to subaltern studies: (1) how coloniality is negotiated, articulated, forced and infused into the flower industry; (2) the impact of coloniality imposed on the flower industry through analysing its historic and cultural context; and (3) to what extent does the government use public policies (i.e. land policy, hawker control policy, heritage preservation policy) to facilitate the economic progress of the city. This study adopts a qualitative approach, using multiple methods such as textual analysis, ethnography including participant observation in the flower market, and semi-structured in-depth interviews with workers in the flower industry, including farmers, wholesalers, retailers and floral designers, etc. I performed participant observation through working as an assistant in a retail flower shop before Valentine’s Day which allowed me to gain first-hand information about flower shop operation and the customers’ perception of flowers. Through these approaches and methods my thesis explores the flower culture of Hong Kong and the power dynamics between the government, elites and ordinary people. The findings of the thesis reveal that the government often adopted negotiation as a means of governance. For instance, the government used various methods to incorporate local resistance as a way to facilitate development, but at the same time, ignored the needs of the flower industry, such as the need (1) to relax land administration rules which would have allowed larger pieces of land for flower cultivation, (2) to offer an appropriate site for a permanent flower market, and (3) to widen the pavement to solve the problem of street obstruction. Instead, the government managed people’s request for a permanent flower market. Law enforcement officers were employed to control the street and limit illegitimate use. I found that a hegemonic decision-making process prevailed, and the government tended to value professional advice but refused to seriously consider the voice of the people. These findings reveal the unwritten power dynamics between the government, elites and ordinary people and add variations to subaltern studies which merely focus on the agency of subalterns. This research is one of the first few local attempts to study the flower industry through its historical and cultural formation. By exploring the point of view of subaltern people vis-?-vis the power dynamics between the government and local elites in executive protocols, bureaucratic practices and laws, this research aims to adopt subaltern studies in understanding quotidian culture, and to make a significant contribution to postcolonial studies and urban studies.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B48330073-
dc.subject.lcshFloriculture - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.subject.lcshUrban renewal - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.subject.lcshMarkets - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.titleEmbedded coloniality in Hong Kong: from flower cultivation to culture-led urban renewal in Mong Kok FlowerMarket-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4833007-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineComparative Literature-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4833007-
dc.date.hkucongregation2012-

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