To Be Rooted: Pluriversality in Wang Chau's Struggle

扎根﹕橫洲抗爭中的多元世界

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date31 Jul 2023

Abstract

Towards the end of 2014, the Hong Kong government informed over 500 villagers in Wang Chau that they must vacate their homes by January 2018, some of whom have resided in the green belt village for four generations. The three affected villages are called Wing Ning Tsuen, Fung Chi Tsuen and Yeung Uk San Tsuen, and all contain myriad species that co-existence in and between the villagers’ 300+ homes. This thesis first describes the thesis novel format, and then problematises and expands upon colonial and “post-colonial” entanglements, that have led to the dispossession of the villagers’ homes, the felling of 1,032 different trees and significant loss of biodiversity.

The thesis novel builds on my participatory action research, activist and multispecies ethnography and multi-sited fieldwork, that includes emancipatory collectives in France, self-built villages in Hong Kong, and other autonomous spaces, both locally and globally. I was first welcomed by the villagers to Wang Chau in 2017 and stayed to witness, document and support the villager-led movement. The thesis novel is one format to document their plight and to present a pedagogy of the movement and radical praxis in Hong Kong. Other formats, to name a few, include public sharings, Jackfruit festivals and tabling at farmers’ markets. These platforms are described in detail in different chapters.

The thesis novel contextualises how village communities in Hong Kong have been marginalised since the British colonial period and how the colonial present perpetuates their dispossession by disparate hegemonic forces. Amidst challenges, the thesis novel: analyses a creative culture of resistance that delayed the government’s eviction by at least three years; expounds a lexicon of coloniality which is weaponised by different stakeholders; and illuminates diverse social actors in the three villages—from solitude insects to autonomous architecture, and from refugee herstories to new forms of direct action. The thesis novel intends to provide decolonial perspectives and approaches that share less visible, yet interrelated worlds, and present, a pluriversality in Wang Chau’s struggle.

With the villagers and not about, the thesis novel marks a thick chapter in Wang Chau’s herstory—which is, to paraphrase villager Mrs Liu, a repeating herstory of evictions in Hong Kong. The story aims to support other villages presently at risk, such as Shek Lei Hang Tsuen and Cha Kwo Ling Tsuen, and bring new events into being, within broader issues of housing rights and climate change.

    Research areas

  • decoloniality, ethnography, interdisciplinarity, research-creation, thesis novel, dispossession, coloniality, pluriversality