Stranded Britons: Hong Kong and Falkland Islanders at Empire's End
Seminar with Mark Hampton, Lingnan University and Ezequiel Mercau, University of Copenhagen
Time: 2013-04-11 9:15 to 11:00
Place: 23.2.39 (New KUA)
Organizer: The Embers of Empire Project, the World History Workshop, and the Institute for English, Germanic & Romance Studies
Mark Hampton, Lingnan University; Hong Kong in the Decolonization Narrative: the politics of British exodus, 1980s-1990s
As John Darwin noted in 1997, Hong Kong has typically been left out of narratives of British decolonization, perhaps because it did not fit the familiar chronology of decolonization and because Hong Kong was never destined for independence. In addition, Hong Kong was not a settler colony in which kith and kin Britons became "abandoned Britons," nor did it contain widespread popular clamoring for a British exodus. This paper argues, though, that the decolonization of Hong Kong should not be set aside as an aberration. Rather, it both adds to the complexity of our decolonization narratives, and also illuminates ways in which familiar themes and strategies were recast in order to accommodate Hong Kong's unusual colonial context.
Specifically, this paper examines the ways in which the Thatcher government very quickly and pragmatically moved from a defiant post-Falklands refusal to consider decolonization, to an effort to consolidate an appropriate legacy of British rule in Hong Kong (an effort that accelerated during the Major/ Patten years). It also examines the efforts of Hong Kong activists to assert to the British Government their rights as Britons, even while asserting their attachment to post-Handover Hong Kong. At the same time, following the Joint Declaration and the establishment of the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Government attempted to ensure its institutional continuity after the change of sovereignty. All three of these efforts potentially conflicted with each other, and also were complicated by British domestic politics (especially the politics of immigration and race), Britain's diplomatic relations with China, and post-Tiananmen anxieties that threatened to drive away Hong Kong's professional and entrepreneurial classes.
Ezequiel Mercau, University of Copenhagen: Abandoned Britons in the South Atlantic: the story of the Falkland Islanders before the 1982 war
Mark Hampton, ‘British Legal Culture and Colonial Governance: The Attack on Corruption in Hong Kong, 1968-1974’, Britain and the World 5.2 (2012).
Klaus Dodds, ‘Kith and Kin: Race, Nationalism and the Falkland Islands’ in Pink Ice: Britain and the South Atlantic Empire (London, I.B. Tauris, 2002), ch. 7.
All are welcome.
World History Workshop is an academic forum for the exchange of ideas among students and scholars of the humanities and social sciences with an interest in world history.
The seminar is funded by the Velux Foundation.