The Production of Estranged Urban Space: Tourism–driven Community Change and Radicalised Identity Politics in Hong Kong since the 2010s


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date12 Aug 2020


As an investigation into the nature of the Hong Kong–China conflict, this thesis examines the rise of local identity in Hong Kong, where an increasing number of people have identified as Hongkongers instead of Chinese since the late 2000s. With an emphasis on everyday life at the community level, it presents a comprehensive study of young residents from three districts in Hong Kong reported to suffer from persistent tourism, parallel trading and high-profile localist protests.

The thesis explores the shift in identity politics by referring to research on spatiality, conducted with both Google Street View analysis (i.e. an innovative method called “Google Mapping”) and in-depth interviews of residents 18–34 years old living in Sheung Shui, Tuen Mun and Yuen Long. The results of the research highlight that the more those local spaces have been shaped by tourism and parallel trading, the more likely their residents are to harbour discontent against Chinese mainlanders and nostalgia for the former status quo. The thesis thus suggests that an estranged space emerging at the community level in Hong Kong has fuelled a nascent, region-wide form of localism as Hongkongers strive to preserve their culture and protect their political autonomy from the influence of the central Chinese government. In closing, the thesis discusses what such estranged space implies and how it relates to the recent Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Protests.

    Research areas

  • Urban Landscape, Spatiality, Parallel Trading, Identity Politics, Localism, Estranged Space