SAM Seminar: Changing Faces of the Expat in Hong Kong Writing

When:28 Feb 2017, 5pm - 6:30pm
Venue:Cinema 327, Robert Webster Building
Who:David Huddart, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong

This seminar explores the difficulty in defining diasporic or expat writing in Hong Kong. Many (but importantly not all) residents of Hong Kong can apply to become permanent residents after seven years, but it is still possible to lose that status if you are not categorised as ‘ethnically Chinese’. Defining the Hong Kong expat might then seem to be a question of ethnicity, and Hong Kong writing might also be understood in those terms. However, while at first glance it might appear easy to identify the writing of the non-ethnically Chinese in Hong Kong, to do so fails to acknowledge both the complex dynamism that underlies the unusually high degree of international mobility of Hong Kong’s many communities (first and foremost Chinese), and tensions between local Hong Kongers and those typically referred to as “mainland Chinese”.

This seminar considers several examples (Martin Booth, Eddie Tay, and Jingan Young) to explore core issues that sit at the heart of expat writing in Hong Kong – the notion of authenticity, the question of readership and relevance to Hong Kong, and the drama of self-reflection that describes the supposed acclimatization process of the “outsider”. However, these issues all arise from, and rely on, the concept of “the local” (Hong Konger). It is not as if the concept is under-examined, as collections of Hong Kong writing frequently begin with attempts to define both writing and writers. However, many assumptions on which these definitions rest remain rooted in a pre-1997 political and intellectual mindset. Two decades later, new ways of thinking about both expat and local are increasingly vital.

David Huddart is an associate professor in literary studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is co-editor of an issue of the journal parallax, on 'Survivals of the Death Sentence', as well as The Future of English in Asia and A Companion to Mia Couto (all 2016). He is the author of Homi K. Bhabha (2006), Postcolonial Theory and Autobiography (2008), and Involuntary Associations (2014).

SAM Seminar Series

This series provides a showcase and forum for local as well as international scholars, researchers, industry practitioners and creative artists – ranging from early-career to well-established – to present on their work. 

Find out more and see the full program.
Enquiries contact: SAM Seminar Convenor, Collin Chua –

Finding us
Robert Webster Building is located mid-way off the UNSW main walkway. Map Reference G14. Cinema 327 is located on the third floor. 

More information on getting to UNSW.
Download a campus map. (PDF)

View Past Events
Join our Newsletters