Everyday HybridityDr Paul O'Connor
"…the ubiquitous “Chinese” architectural style that characterised early urban Hong Kong-the shop with living quarters upstairs and a verandah-was imported to Hong Kong from another British colony, SIngapore, which in turn was affected by older colonial cities in India, such as Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras."
A Concise History of Hong Kong, John M. Carroll (2007) p.4.
When charting the hybridity of Hong Kong it is often the case that historic Hong Kong echoes the same mixture and diversity that we presently see in the territory. Carroll’s book provides a keen insight to this dynamic. This is underlined, as the book notes, even when we reach back hundreds of years before the British arrived.
"The second avatar was the map-as-log. Its origins were reasonably innocent - the practice of imperial dye. In London’s imperial maps, British colonies were usually pink-red, French purple-blue, Dutch yellow-brown, and so on. Dyed this way, each colony appeared like a detachable piece of a jigsaw puzzle. As this ‘jigsaw’ effect became normal, each ‘piece’ could be wholly detached from its geographic context. In its final form all explanatory glosses could be summarily removed: lines of longitude and latitude, place names, signs for rivers, seas, mountains, neighbours. Pure sign, no longer compass to the world. In this shape, the map entered an infinitely reproducible series, available for transfer to posters, official seals, letterheads, magazine and textbook covers, tablecloths, and hotel walls. Instantly recognisable, everywhere visible, the logo-map penetrated deep into the popular imagination, forming a powerful emblem for the anti-colonial nationalisms being born."
Benedict Anderson Imagined Communities p. 175
A fantastic quote. Succinctly summing up the way we associate a map with a geographic outline. Reflecting on Hong Kong, I have the outline of the territory sealed in my mind to such an extent that I could quite accurately draw it freehand. It is only an outline, separated from all surrounding context and removed of any physical feature. But in a rather odd way it is a national representation, it triggers an emotional response, identification, a sense of belonging.
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