A RELATIONAL GEOGRAPHY OF HERITAGE IN POST-1997 HONG KONG by Lachlan Barber B.A., The University of King’s College, 2004 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2006 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Geography) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) July 2014 © Lachlan Barber, 2014 Abstract The central question of this dissertation is: what can Hong Kong teach us about the geography of heritage? The study considers the discursive transformation of cultural heritage as a feature of Hong Kong’s transition since the 1997 retrocession to Chinese sovereignty. Specifically, it traces the contradictory growth of interest in heritage as an urban amenity on the part of the government, and its simultaneous framing as a socio-political critique of neoliberal governance on the part of actors in civil society. The study analyses these dynamics from a perspective attentive to the relationships – forged through various forms of mobility and comparison – between Hong Kong and other places including mainland China, Great Britain, and urban competitors. The project relies on data gathered through English-language research conducted over a period of two and a half years. Sixty in-depth interviews were carried out with experts, activists, professionals and politicians in Hong Kong. Extensive surveys of government documents, the print and online media, and archival materials were undertaken. Other methods employed include site visits and participant observation. The methodology was oriented around the analysis of processes of heritage policy and contestation over a number of sites in Central, Hong Kong and surrounding districts where contradictory visions of the meaning of heritage have played out materially. The dissertation connects with debates in critical heritage studies, urban geography, and Hong Kong studies. A distinctly geographical contribution to heritage studies is made with the application of relational theory, drawn from the emerging literature on urban policy mobilities and urban studies more generally, to the study of the politics of heritage. The consideration of heritage policy, an important feature of the cultural economy and collectively produced and ii contested, adds to understandings of globalizing urban cultural policy. Finally, the study of these processes – at this particular moment in Hong Kong – provides a new frame for understanding post-handover politics in an era of increasing agitation about the future of the SAR’s relationship with the Mainland and ongoing struggles for democratization. iii Preface This thesis is submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. The research was designed and undertaken solely by the author, under the guidance of the research supervisor and supervisory committee. Prior to the commencement of the research, ethical approval for the aspects involving human participants was obtained through a formal review by the Behavioural Ethical Review Board of the University of British Columbia under certificate H09-02320. Parts of Chapter 4 and 5 of this thesis have been published in Urban Studies as the sole-authored article entitled “(Re)Making heritage policy in Hong Kong: A relational politics of global knowledge and local innovation” (Barber, 2014). Findings from Chapter 4 have been published as an online conference paper through the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia as “Locating postcolonial heritage in Hong Kong: The Star Ferry Pier as a site of politics, memory and encounter.” iv Table of Contents Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... ii Preface ........................................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents ...........................................................................................................................v List of Tables .............................................................................................................................. viii List of Figures ............................................................................................................................... ix List of Abbreviations .....................................................................................................................x Acknowledgements ...................................................................................................................... xi Chapter 1: Finding a Way into Hong Kong’s Skyline Image ....................................................1 1.1 Hong Kong as Skyline Image ......................................................................................... 1 1.2 Flowers in a Window ...................................................................................................... 3 1.3 The Scene ........................................................................................................................ 5 1.4 The Contribution of the Thesis ....................................................................................... 6 1.4.1 A new story about heritage and urban policy in Hong Kong ..................................... 7 1.5 Methodology ................................................................................................................... 9 1.5.1 The agents of heritage in Hong Kong ....................................................................... 10 1.5.2 The places of heritage in Hong Kong ....................................................................... 13 1.5.3 The texts of heritage in Hong Kong .......................................................................... 14 1.5.4 About language ......................................................................................................... 15 1.6 Chapter Outline ............................................................................................................. 16 Chapter 2: A Geography of Heritage in a World in Motion....................................................21 2.1 What is Heritage? .......................................................................................................... 23 2.2 Heritage in the City ....................................................................................................... 30 2.3 Urban Heritage with Asian Characteristics? ................................................................. 37 2.4 Geographies of Heritage ............................................................................................... 44 2.4.1 A relational geography of heritage: Rethinking scale and mobility ......................... 46 2.5 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 54 Chapter 3: Rereading the History of Heritage in Hong Kong .................................................55 3.1 Presuppositions ............................................................................................................. 58 3.2 An Archaeology of Heritage ......................................................................................... 61 3.3 Historical Context of the 1960s and 1970s ................................................................... 66 3.4 The Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance ................................................................. 70 3.5 The Hong Kong Heritage Society ................................................................................. 74 3.6 The Kowloon-Canton Railway Terminus ..................................................................... 78 3.7 Colonial Heritage through a Relational Lens................................................................ 84 3.8 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 85 Chapter 4: Tradition and Transition: Heritage, Culture and Politics in Hong Kong after 1997................................................................................................................................................87 4.1 Climbing the Lion Rock................................................................................................ 87 4.2 Layout of the Chapter ................................................................................................... 91 4.3 The Meaning of 1997 .................................................................................................... 92 4.4 Heritage, Education and Tourism: Legitimating a Political Project ............................. 97 4.5 The Culture and Heritage Commission......................................................................... 99 4.6 The Roots of the New Heritage Activism ................................................................... 103 v 4.7 The Star Ferry and Queen’s Piers ............................................................................... 106 4.8 After the Piers Protests................................................................................................ 111 4.9 The Post-1980s (“Post-New Town Plaza”) Generation .............................................. 112 4.10 The State’s Response .................................................................................................. 115 4.11 The New Heritage Discourse ...................................................................................... 118 4.12 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 121 Chapter 5: The Geography of Heritage Policy Learning .......................................................122 5.1 A Relational Politics of Heritage Policy Learning in Hong Kong.............................. 126 5.2 Layout of the Chapter ................................................................................................. 130 5.3 Policies in Motion I: The Panel on Home Affairs ...................................................... 131 5.4 Policies in Motion II: The ACP as a Node for Heritage Policy Learning .................. 136 5.5 Learning from Elsewhere: Knowledge and Expertise ................................................ 139 5.5.1 Learning from Macau ............................................................................................. 140 5.5.2 Learning from Australia .......................................................................................... 145 5.5.3 Learning from Shanghai ......................................................................................... 149 5.6 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 153 Chapter 6: City as Home: Heritage Mobilization among Non-State Policy Actors ............155 6.1 Layout of the Chapter ................................................................................................. 158 6.2 Situating Roots in a Mobile City ................................................................................ 159 6.3 The City as Home ....................................................................................................... 162 6.4 Returning Home to the City as Home ......................................................................... 165 6.5 The Local Traveler ...................................................................................................... 167 6.5.1 The “Former Police Married Quarters” campaign .................................................. 170 6.6 The Overseas Educated Returnee ............................................................................... 177 6.6.1 “J Senses”: Cosmopolitan heritage for sale ............................................................ 179 6.7 The Professional Returned Migrant ............................................................................ 186 6.8 Conclusion: “A New Type of Politics” ....................................................................... 188 Chapter 7: A Challenge to Progressive Development: The West Wing Controversy .........190 7.1 Layout of the Chapter ................................................................................................. 193 7.2 The Central Government Offices ................................................................................ 196 7.3 The Move to Tamar .................................................................................................... 198 7.4 The Historic and Architectural Appraisal of the Central Government Offices .......... 202 7.5 The Tycoon Connection .............................................................................................. 205 7.6 The Government’s Position ........................................................................................ 206 7.7 The Shifting Fortunes of the West Wing Redevelopment Proposal ........................... 210 7.8 Temporal Relationality: Historical Research .............................................................. 213 7.9 Spatial Relationality: A Geomantic Reading of Government Hill ............................. 214 7.10 Territorial Relationality: International Pressure ......................................................... 215 7.11 The “Old and Valuable” Burmese Rosewood ............................................................ 219 7.12 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 222 Chapter 8: An Oasis in a Sea of Towers: Standing in at the Central Market ......................224 8.1 Placing “the Market” in Hong Kong ........................................................................... 225 8.1.1 Central Market contemporaries I: Bridges Street Market ....................................... 229 8.1.2 Central Market contemporaries II: Wan Chai Market ............................................ 230 8.2 The Central Market ..................................................................................................... 233 vi 8.3 “Breathing Space” in Central ...................................................................................... 238 8.4 The “Central Oasis” Brand ......................................................................................... 239 8.5 Revitalising Consensus ............................................................................................... 244 8.6 Unbranding the Central Market .................................................................................. 246 8.7 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 250 Chapter 9: Walking Against the Grain: Encounters with Living Heritage on Foot ...........253 9.1 Heritage on Foot ......................................................................................................... 256 9.2 Walking in Hong Kong ............................................................................................... 260 9.3 Walking in the Hills, in the Streets and in the Shopping Malls .................................. 265 9.4 Heritage Trails in Hong Kong..................................................................................... 268 9.5 Government-Sponsored Heritage Trails ..................................................................... 269 9.6 Civil Society Heritage Trails ...................................................................................... 272 9.7 Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail .................................................................................... 275 9.8 “Our Bus Terminal” Walking Tour ............................................................................ 277 9.9 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 280 Chapter 10: Concluding Reflections: Learning from Hong Kong ........................................281 10.1 Why Lessons Learned from Hong Kong are Important .............................................. 284 10.2 Revisiting the Contribution of the Thesis ................................................................... 287 10.3 A Final Word: On Ambiguity ..................................................................................... 289 Bibliography ...............................................................................................................................291 Appendices ..................................................................................................................................312 Appendix A Interviews ........................................................................................................... 312 Appendix B Sample Contact Letter and Consent Form.......................................................... 314 B.1 Sample contact letter ............................................................................................... 314 B.2 Sample consent form............................................................................................... 315 vii List of Tables Table 1 Declared Monuments in Hong Kong: 1978-1983 ............................................................ 67 Table 2 Revisions to specifications of West Wing redevelopment proposal.............................. 212 Table 3 Government-sponsored heritage trails ........................................................................... 271 viii List of Figures Figure 1: KCR Rail Terminus c. 1950 (photo from Gwulo Hong Kong) ..................................... 78 Figure 2: Heritage content in the South China Morning Post 1997-2013 .................................. 119 Figure 3: Leal Senado Square, Macau Special Administrative Region ...................................... 144 Figure 4: The Former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters .............................................. 171 Figure 5: Shophouses at "The Pawn" and J Senses .................................................................... 179 Figure 6: West Wing, Central Government Offices ................................................................... 192 Figure 7: CGO Complex at Tamar "The Door" .......................................................................... 200 ix List of Abbreviations AAB – Antiquities Advisory Board AMO – Antiquities and Monuments Office CHC – Culture and Heritage Commission COCAC – Central Oasis Community Advisory Committee CWCG – Central and Western Concern Group CE – Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region DEVB – Development Bureau GHCG – Government Hill Concern Group HAB – Home Affairs Bureau HKHS – Hong Kong Heritage Society HKSAR – Hong Kong Special Administrative Region HKTB – Hong Kong Tourism Board ICOMOS – International Council on Monuments and Sites KCR – Kowloon Canton Railway Terminus LegCo – Legislative Council OVT – Old and Valuable Tree PRC – People’s Republic of China PRD – Pearl River Delta SAR – Special Administrative Region SDEV – Secretary for Development SPH – Society for the Protection of the Harbour The Ordinance – The Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance TPB – Town Planning Board x Acknowledgements This thesis is the product of an effort aided and shaped by many people, some of whom are friends, colleagues and mentors, other who I have only met a few times but who nonetheless impacted me greatly. The research was supported by a SSHRC fellowship and travel award. My community in Vancouver and on the west coast consisted of geographers including Jessica Hallenbeck, Sarah Zell, Emily-Jane Davis, Yolande Pottie-Sherman, Justin Tse, Dawn Hoogeveen, Elaine Ho, and Bonnie Kaserman. Camaraderie with these people, as well as Henny Yeung, Fang Xu, Shumei Huang and many others, propelled me through the early stages of the degree with shared enthusiasm and created the right balance to move forward. In Hong Kong I owe debts to many people including Hoyin Lee, Lynn DiStefano, George Lin, Katty Law, Sandy Chan, David Sadoway, Angus Mak, Tricia Flanagan, Sing Ha, Desmond Sham, Siu Tin and others who made me feel at home and pointed me in fruitful directions. I am also deeply thankful to the many people who took time out of their busy work schedules and private lives to share their passion for Hong Kong with me in interviews and on walks. I would not have completed this thesis without the support and encouragement of my supervisor, David Ley, and the members of my supervisory committee: Carolyn Cartier, Abidin Kusno and Elvin Wyly. They each challenged me in the most constructive and inspiring of ways and the work immensely better for it. In Halifax, where most writing of the thesis was done, I have been sustained by friendships and by my family. Steve, Maddie, Cooper and Bella, my parents, Bruce and Pauline, and Claire and Michael, keep me level-headed, always thinking about the importance the human dynamics of place. xi Chapter 1: Finding a Way into Hong Kong’s Skyline Image 1.1 Hong Kong as Skyline Image Arriving in Hong Kong on one of the many daily flights from major cities around the world, the urban landscape unfolds through haze-enveloped mountains to reveal hundreds of high-rises in clusters on either side of the harbour and in valleys and coves beyond. Before 1997, flights would navigate towards these structures, following a path of low-rises that led to the runway at Kai Tak in eastern Kowloon. The runway and the airport it served were built into the harbour on reclaimed land. This was a significant feat of construction and engineering, especially so for a densely populated urban location, but the facility lacked capacity for expansion and a new airport, indicative of infrastructure-led development projects favoured by the Hong Kong government, was planned. Thus, in 1997 planes changed their course to the Foster-designed Chek Lap Kok Airport, also built on reclaimed land, off the north-western shoreline of Lantau Island. Although this new location is far from the urban core, upon descent from the sky it is still possible to catch glimpses of the skyline for which Hong Kong is so famous. Images seen half-awake through condensation-laden airline windows, postcards sent around the world, or in the glossy pages of travel or lifestyle magazines, may come to represent the cities of which they only portray a small part. While many places are summed up in the imagery of a single iconic building or monument – Toronto’s CN Tower, Delhi’s Taj Mahal, Beijing’s Forbidden City, London’s Big Ben – Hong Kong can’t seem to escape being represented by its skyline, especially as viewed from Kowloon across Victoria Harbour, or from above, with the mountain and water framing it. It is difficult to pinpoint when the skyline image took on this synecdochic quality, but it is safe to say it predates the construction of some of the city’s most well-known buildings – I. M. Pei’s knife-like Bank of China tower, Norman Foster’s 1 inside out HSBC building, and the more recent fortress-like International Financial Centre (IFC) and International Commerce Centre (ICC) complexes flanking Victoria Harbour. The skyline was probably already celebrated, or at least recognized, when it was dominated only by the earlier incarnation of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation building, and perhaps even before then, when the verdant topography of Victoria Peak stood out in relief behind much smaller buildings. The skyline of Hong Kong evokes the city’s history as a colonial trading entrepôt, capitalist enclave adjacent to communist China, and beginning in 1978 its role as a centre of finance linked to booming Chinese markets under reform. As a hub, at different moments, of trade, manufacturing, commerce, and development, Hong Kong is its skyline: a fortuitous and intentional response to geographical constraints and historical conditions. High-rises became ubiquitous because they were the most efficient and profitable use of land in a city with a severe shortage of space (Cuthbert, 1984), a result of Hong Kong hilly topography and the colonial government’s land administration policy. They were only later symbolically linked to capitalism in ways similar to their American counterparts (King, 2004). Temporally, the meanings of the skyline-image are more likely to be oriented to the present and future than the past. Although all landscapes reflect historical processes, and Hong Kong’s urban landscape may evoke memories and reflect past experiences, it also negates them. The view of the landscape from a distance or from “on high”, abstracted to the point that sees only the outcome of a strategy of growth (de Certeau, 2010), belies the presence of any traces of the past. But on further inspection, close up, other elements come into view. The high-rises that at first appear almost uniformly new and similar in shape, colour, design, and texture are in fact varied in size, age and upkeep. Behind and among the towers are smaller buildings representing 2 innumerable variations on a theme; on the streets, people, market stalls, taxi cabs, buses and trams jostle for space; the traces of humanity overflow from windows, verandahs and roofs above – dripping air conditioners, clothing, signs for above ground-level businesses. These effects of habitation decrease in inverse proportion to the age of the building. The newest structures are shiny and flat and appear sealed from the turbid fresh air. At this level, the fine-grained, on-the-ground reality, there emerge other meanings and understandings of Hong Kong: contradictions, histories, attachments, and conflicts that undermine the symbolic representations and constructions of the city. What is in and under the skyline? What lies behind it? 1.2 Flowers in a Window If one arrives in Hong Kong on a plane, one enters it on foot. The views of austere towers from a distance are transformed by the complexity of the embodied experience of being in the city. And such may be the experience of arrival of an international visitor: they arrive at the Central Station on the high speed rail link from the airport1. After walking through long corridors filled with fast-moving people and rising to the surface upon equally fast-moving escalators, they find themselves under heavy, moist grey skies on a noisy street in view of a news vendor, idling buses, an advertisement for European watches, several air exchange systems and buildings containing luxury shops that do not appear to offer entrances from the street, thus purposely distanced from this scene. There is an unspecified din in which the distinct sounds of car horns, revving engines, construction equipment, and voices are occasionally audible. A walk around the corner under the shade of a towering bank bedecked with restaurants on the first several floors, past groups of suited office workers, sunglass-donning, camera-toting tourists, a red light at a 1 I begin with the experience of a visitor as I myself, as an outsider, entered the city for the first time. This is a decidedly different outlook than that of most Hong Kong residents. 3 busy intersection forces a pause and a herd of red taxis stop short thirty meters away. For a moment, nothing and no one – not cars or pedestrians – moves, and the pavement is bare. A few brave souls wager that it is safe and the crowd begins to disperse across the narrow street before the light turns green. Along this busy shopping artery the surroundings are not unlike those of a “high street” in any other city. Turning onto one of the side streets leading up the hill, however, things begin to change. The street is wide enough to allow one car to pass, but the bric-à-brac of shop and market displays prevent all but pedestrians. It is so steep that only the surest of feet manage the grade, while others resort to the outdoor escalator or buses. Rising and turning a few corners, the environmental effect of the surrounding buildings becomes noticeable. There are pockets of space that the circulating fresh air does not appear to have reached. The drip of air conditioning units and heady hot air forced from restaurant kitchens mingles with garbage, festering in spite of the fervent collection schedule. With less traffic, the din changes, different sounds become apparent: conversations, the sounds of people working: operating machines, calling out to potential customers, cleaning. Pedestrians are more confident, walking down the middle of the street, but quickly moving aside or checking over their shoulder at the sound of a horn or approaching engine. At the next corner, a market stretching along the flat horizontal street comes into view. A woman in a rubber apron and gloves scrapes the scales off a fish under the glow cast by red lamp shades. A butcher awaits his next customer, presiding expectantly over an unrefrigerated display of pork on a heavy butcher’s block. The meat is so fresh that the flies have not noticed it. An old woman sits on a stool assembling flower bouquets in plastic buckets. She works intently but looks up whenever a potential customer comes close. Ten feet behind her lies the entrance to one of the walk up buildings that forms the backdrop for this scene. Looking up, the first floor 4 windows are grimy, broken and barely contained by rusty frames; the apartment must be vacant. Above this, the second floor has similarly shaped traditional windows but they appear nearly-new, free of dust and encircled by a painted frame. A bouquet of flowers, perhaps from the vendor downstairs, is placed on a table or stand next to the window and visible to the outside. Next door, a clearly empty building of identical size and design is unceremoniously decorated with an announcement from the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) declaring it unfit for habitation and subject to renewal. 1.3 The Scene The market described in the foregoing section is centred around Graham Street, just up the hill from the bank towers that dominate the skyline. It is the site of an intense struggle over city space that is both unique to Hong Kong and characteristic of other well-documented urban processes of the contemporary period. The market is subject to both government-led urban renewal and piecemeal residential and commercial gentrification. The renewal scheme is proceeding at a moment of great skepticism of the government’s intentions with respect to planning and development and profound interest in Hong Kong’s past that has found expression, among other ways, in a fascination with and a desire to hold on to older buildings and neighbourhoods. The prologue was intended to highlight the paradox that lies at the heart of this research project and dissertation: imagining historical elements of the built environment in Hong Kong as heritage is incongruous with the way the city operates and its discursive construction, that finds material expression in the skyline image, as a centre of global and Asian capitalisms. I have been reminded of this paradox time and time again in conversations with friends and acquaintances at home in Canada, in Hong Kong and elsewhere. My explanations of my research project, which inevitably include mention of “heritage in Hong Kong,” are often met with 5 surprise, or even denial. Of course, the word “heritage”, especially in the English-speaking “West”, may conjure up images of buildings and things that do not exist in Hong Kong, such as wood frame Victorian houses or low-rise brownstone buildings. But, in various forms – monumental and everyday, modern and traditional, Chinese, European, international and hybrid – heritage does indeed exist in Hong Kong as built forms, landscapes and intangible elements that are invested with meanings and values that inspire reverence, desire, nostalgia for and interest in the past. But this very fact, given Hong Kong’s reliance on land sales and redevelopment for government revenue, marks an improbability. That heritage has been an important topic of discussion among government agents and in the public discourse over the last decade is all the more striking. Thus, underneath and inside the future-oriented landscapes of capitalism, traces of the past are being reworked and reinvented in ways that deserve scrutiny. 1.4 The Contribution of the Thesis The thesis contributes to three major areas of geographical scholarship that overlap both with each other and with related fields of research: i) the study of Hong Kong as, following the 1997 return to Chinese sovereignty, a city both part of and apart from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and embedded in regional and global networks; ii) human geographical scholarship that studies cities from a relational perspective, taking into account both mobility and flows, as well as the city as a territorial formation; and iii) a critical approach to heritage that recognizes the problematic of its Eurocentric origins in the context of an appeal to both universality and local specificity. The following provides a brief overview, to be fully developed in chapter 2, of the contribution of the thesis to each of these three areas. 6 1.4.1 A new story about heritage and urban policy in Hong Kong Many stories have been told about Hong Kong. The most often repeated and reworked of these – Hong Kong’s colonial economy relative to global trade, and more recently flourishing Chinese markets under reform; the upward mobilities of post-war Chinese immigrants and their children; and most recently the meanings of cultural identity relative to the Chinese nation – form the main themes upon which the variations of Hong Kong studies scholarship are played. The explosion of interest in heritage after 1997 has provided much fodder, especially insofar as it is a reflection of identity politics – not as one might think, a growing sense of belonging to China, but of being distinct. Even from the view of 1997, with its edited special issues exploring the meanings, especially the cultural dimensions, of this unprecedented transition2, one might not have envisioned the arrival of such a trend. The present research contributes to Hong Kong scholarship by connecting the heritage phenomenon to political questions in relation to which it has not yet been fully considered. Rather than asking about the cultural and political motivations compelling desires to articulate and hold on to the past, as a number of others have done very thoughtfully (Cody, 2002; Henderson, 2008; Leung & Soyez, 2009; Ku, 2010; 2012), the present work brings into the picture the place of heritage in the dynamics of governance in the years following the handover. The motivations of civil society heritage activists are considered, but in relation to the political landscape in which internal affairs are inevitably conditioned by external relationships. The interest in how Hong Kong’s relationships with other places – notably China, but also countries and jurisdictions such as Australia, Singapore, Shanghai and Macau – are part of 2 See, for instance, Abbas (1997a), Hung (1997) and others in the same issue of Public Culture. 7 the local politics of heritage connects with a growing body of literature on relational urbanism (Olds, 2002; Kong, Gibson, Khoo & Semple, 2006; McFarlane, 2011; McCann & Ward, 2011; Jacobs, 2012). As a review of the literature in the following chapter reveals, this intellectual project is a long time in the making, drawing on decades old writings on “place” in the context of increasing interactions between places, and only now fully reckoning with the ways in which globalization affects multiple and cross-cutting scales of urban politics. As a simultaneously global, national and local phenomenon subject to policies and practices and shaped by expert and lay knowledge, heritage, as studied through a relational lens, enriches geographical perspectives on the making of policy. Heritage policy, reflecting government support for culture, driven by various agendas, has not been extensively studied in either the policy literature or the heritage literature. This thesis seeks to remedy this deficiency and contribute to the theorization of heritage as a feature of urban politics in an era of global mobility. Finally, heritage, the key interest, has already been extensively studied and critiqued. The next chapter reviews the themes and gaps in this literature, to which contributing something worthwhile appears a formidable challenge. The contribution is deceptively simple. Most scholars study heritage in order to understand particular places. Heritage can tell us many interesting things about the cultural identities, social dynamics, historical geographies of violence and dispossession, and politics of places. This thesis does the reverse: it studies a place, Hong Kong, in order to better understand heritage. I take the view, of course, that the place in question is not a discrete territory, but rather embedded in historical and present-day, multiply scaled and power-laden relationships with other places, including China, East and South-East Asian neighbours, Britain, and a roster of global city competitors. Approaching the idea of heritage in this way I attempt to denaturalize and deneutralize it as a universal category that 8 everywhere operates with the same set of foundational meanings. Ultimately, the project is driven by an effort to destabilize the origins of this concept that is so much celebrated but also deeply problematic, and to articulate the ways, as shown in Hong Kong, that it may be used progressively. 1.5 Methodology The question of how to place temporal, geographical and other kinds of boundaries around a research project and maintain an openness to understanding relationships with broader processes has been a long-standing concern of social scientists (Gupta & Ferguson, 1997; Crang & Cook, 2007). In the era of global ethnography (Burawoy, 2000), multi-sited projects and unparalleled connections between places around the world, situating research spatially has become more complicated than ever. It is often not enough to ask a question about a place and research the place in question; one must also be cognizant of connections that extend beyond (Massey, 2005). This is especially true of research on the city which, in its contemporary iterations, Jacobs (2012, p. 212) argues “exists in, and manifests, a condition of relationality that defies territorial depiction.” Indeed, contemporary work on mobilities, a frame upon which the thesis draws, has recognized the importance of working with and across different scales, from the bodily to global registers (Cresswell, 2011). The ways of thinking relationally upon which the research methodology is based have not yet been applied in any sustained way to urban heritage. The methodology for this research project involves multiple commitments and engagements that may be described as a mixed-methods approach to studying places and agents through which policy assessment, learning and innovation are (re)produced and contested. My approach to these agents and places is contextualized in the following sections. Preliminary research began well before my arrival in Hong Kong; substantial field work was completed 9 during a ten-month stay in 2010 and a follow-up visit in 2012. Research methods involving human participants consisted mainly of expert interviews and participant observation. Other research activities revolved around various texts including newspaper articles and records from government and civil society organizations and various online sources. A short discussion on language is explained in the context of the research questions. I begin by elaborating my engagements with the agents, places and texts of heritage in Hong Kong. 1.5.1 The agents of heritage in Hong Kong The principal research activities involving human participants were in-depth interviews and participant observation. I interviewed 60 people (see Appendix A). The majority of the interviews took place in Hong Kong; four were in Sydney, Australia, two in Vancouver. The outliers in the latter cities were referred to me by contacts in Hong Kong and I pursued interviews with them because I was particularly interested in the role of international and mobile expert knowledge. The interviews ranged in length from 35 minutes to over three hours, with most lasting approximately one hour. The informants were mainly recruited through networks of people working either professionally or out of personal interest in fields related to the built environment, and who have a particular focus or interest in heritage. A quarter of the informants are members of civil society involved in various forms of activism, while another quarter work for the government as elected officials, bureaucrats or public servants. Of these, most have a direct link to heritage, being either employed in the Antiquities and Monuments Office (which administers Hong Kong’s heritage resources), the Development Bureau (overseeing heritage, planning and related areas of policy), or representing the urban realm in functional constituencies. Approximately 30 per cent of the interview respondents are employed in the private sector as architects, designers and others in related cultural professions. It is important to 10 note the similarities and differences between individuals assigned to these broad categorizations. As expected, the state agents had a limited ability to critically assess the government decision-making and work; those working in civil society were generally unflinching critics of the government; the heritage professionals presented more ambiguous positionalities, at times allied with government, at other times supporting a more critical orientation. Although the boundaries between the categories are fuzzy in places, all of the individuals are all part of a dynamic that can be broadly categorized as a political landscape of heritage. Except for one, all of the Hong Kong interview respondents are permanent residents of the territory, meaning they carry Hong Kong ID cards and are entitled to live and work in the HKSAR and travel with few restrictions in the Mainland. Most are Hong Kongers of Chinese origin, many having lived abroad in the 1990s or at different moments, and returned. Eight of the people I interviewed in Hong Kong are expats who have settled permanently in the territory. Although it may appear that my inability to speak Cantonese or Mandarin and my outsider status may have made expats more likely informants, I believe that anyone working on this topic would end up talking to these individuals. A small number of expatriates, in addition to returnees from overseas, have been highly visible and active critics of Hong Kong’s urban planning and development practices, and heritage is just one of a number of areas of interest under this broader umbrella. The expatriates I spoke to have been in Hong Kong for between 6 and 30 years and are deeply committed to the city. They mostly came to Hong Kong to pursue business opportunities and ended up later becoming involved in urban activism, hence they are most certainly privileged, but politically active and allied with progressive groups. Loh and Lai (2007, p. 173) cite a report in a Mainland daily newspaper in 2006 in which a senior official worries about the influence of “foreign radicals” in Hong Kong. Blaming a small number of foreigners for the 11 rising tide of dissent since 1997 is, of course, quite off the mark, but we note here that this orientation that is quite different from the stereotype of the rootless mobile elite, lacking commitments to place and politics (Sklair, 2001). The purpose of the interviews was principally to gain an understanding of how individuals who work in the fields related to heritage engage in mobile and relational practices and imaginaries in and beyond their work, and how these practices and imaginaries inform discourses of heritage and the governance of heritage in Hong Kong. The “practices” I was interested in are the day-to-day activities, sometimes seemingly mundane and insignificant, in which the boundaries of the territory are exceeded, including travel and communication. I was also interested in the ways in which mobility was sometimes not practiced but rather longed for, or in which past experiences remain present. I asked people questions about their work, including international networks, policy learning, the application of international knowledge and best practices with respect to particular places in Hong Kong, but also about personal experiences that have inspired their interest in heritage. Although initially I had planned to focus mainly on policy, the interviews offered a rich forum for insights about politics, and especially about contested sites subject to intensive media coverage. I did not follow an interview schedule, however I did prepare questions for every interview, and I touched upon the same themes quite frequently. In a number of cases the questions I had prepared were discarded in the process of the interview, either because my informant appeared to want to share only a prepared set of points, or because the conversation took an unanticipated direction for which questions were not appropriate. Although insights from the interviews appear throughout the thesis, much of what I gleaned from them sits in the background, as a set of socio-political dynamics about Hong Kong’s landscapes and history, its relationship with China, and its place in the world. 12 1.5.2 The places of heritage in Hong Kong In addition to the interviews, I engaged in observation in a number of different places. I liken this to the tradition of participant observation in ethnographic research, but note that my observation was not focused solely on people, but rather the type of “place ballet” (Jacobs, 1961) described in the opening narrative. In terms of more traditional exercises in participant observation I attended meetings and presentations organized by Designing Hong Kong3 and government-organized public consultations4 related to public realm heritage projects, including the Lung Tsun Stone Bridge and the Central Market. My attendance of these events allowed me to observe discussion and to see, on a superficial level, who attended such events. They especially informed my ability to understand the places in question, and the ways in which planning and governance, in particular processes designed to engage or consult with members of the public, affect them. In addition to these official events, I frequently visited heritage places, especially those subject to debate in the civic realm. I spent a significant amount of time in Central and Wan Chai, visiting publicly-owned heritage buildings and areas with concentrations of tong lau5 in the former, and the street market and area surrounding a building called the “Blue House” in the latter. During these visits it became evident that these places are both exceptional 3 Designing Hong Kong is an NGO that works on a range of issues related to planning, urban environmental issues and the civic realm. 4 Community-scale events organized by government are conducted in Cantonese, but are required to accommodate non-Chinese speakers in English. 5 No exact translation of tong lau is possible but an English approximation is “Chinese house”. The term has referred mainly to shophouses in Southern China and of the overseas Chinese in South-East Asia. These structures feature commercial space at street level and residential uses, often subdivided, above. According to Chu (2012, p. 257), tong lau “became an umbrella term associated with buildings with many different kinds of functions” but it also had “stereotypical associations” and “‘types’ of inhabitants.” Other points of reference include “tenement-style” housing due to the use of the term in early building and housing ordinances, and an opposition with “European” architecture. Although this dissertation does not engage with an in depth assessment of tong lau it is important to point out the ways the complexity of the historical production of this form and the language used to describe it is oversimplified in much of the contemporary discourse, especially in the absence of a nuanced interpretation of the challenges of translation (C. Cartier, personal communication, 2014). 13 and mundane; they may be visited by crowds of amateur photographers seeking to capture an image of the rapidly disappearing “authentic Hong Kong” one day, and passed unnoticed by crowds of shoppers and commuters the next. More structured visits occurred during walking excursions, either affairs organized by community groups, or walks with research informants. 1.5.3 The texts of heritage in Hong Kong I began to consider this research project in 2007 after reading reports of the Star Ferry protests in the Globe and Mail (York, 2007). By the time I began the research in earnest in 2010 I found extensive changes in the administrative structure related to heritage had occurred in the intervening years. With a simple google search I found the website of the Commissioner for Heritage Office, under the umbrella of a newly created Development Bureau. Further searching revealed a multitude of reports, studies, meetings and memos documenting the government’s treatment of heritage over the course of a few short years. These texts are almost all available in English. The same was true of most of the documentation, including research papers, letters and representations presented to the Town Planning Board, produced by civil society groups. These texts, along with extensive reporting in the South China Morning Post and the occasional item in other media, including English radio programming on RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong, a public broadcaster), both reflect and are constitutive of the transformation that sits at the core of the thesis. Within these texts I was particularly interested in identifying comparisons with other places, the evocation of examples, models or exemplars from elsewhere, that are considered in relation to the Hong Kong experience. While newspaper reporting may be considered an objective source of facts, this should not be taken for granted in Hong Kong where press freedom is facing threats. In addition to contemporary documentation, I made use of a limited amount of archival materials from the 1970s and 80s, drawn upon in Chapter 3, on the development of the 14 Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (the Ordinance), newspaper reports of heritage debates, and the activities of the Hong Kong Heritage Society (HKHS). 1.5.4 About language As explained earlier, I did not gain a mastery of the local language in order to carry out the research. I decided early on that I would not pursue intensive training in Cantonese (beyond a beginner level) or Mandarin, and felt uneasy about this decision at times. I justified this limitation in the structure of the research plan. By studying mainly expert knowledge on heritage and policy, rather than the relationships between identity and place, I set myself up to converse with people who had been educated in English6. By studying the ways in which policy processes and governance through a geographical lens, rather than pursuing the more typical geographical question of how place reflects cultural processes, I was also able to rely extensively on documentation. Nevertheless, I did occasionally encounter situations where my lack of language proficiency was called into question. For the most part, however, I missed out on access to extensive written sources, including independent online media, and casual conversations and “gossip” about the city which, I learned, is very important. I did employ an assistant to help with some translation tasks, including a review of reporting on heritage controversies in Chinese newspapers (mainly Apple Daily, which is critical and banned in the Mainland, and Ming Pao, which has a reputation for objectivity) and conversations with shopkeepers and market stall holders during visits to Central and Wan Chai. For the most part, I did not experience limitations due to language in the aspects of my research involving human participants. However, I was aware that mis-matches in translation meant that the very categories that I was working with, and 6 It is normal for middle class Hong Kong people to pursue tertiary education in English. The public service still continues to operate bilingually. 15 that had been adopted as the lingua franca of heritage in the city, originate in the English-speaking world. The Chinese characters for the word “heritage,” when translated to English, mean something closer to “cultural relic.” The contemporary examples of heritage in Hong Kong, however, belie this meaning. 1.6 Chapter Outline One of the central focal points of this thesis is a place-based study of heritage as a discourse (Smith, 2006) that has material repercussions. This is different from most studies of heritage that begin with objects, thus neglecting the epistemological structures that are required to “know” heritage. Thus, while case studies of particular buildings and sites do appear in later chapters, the main focus is the transformation of ways of thinking about heritage, and the ways in which geography is important to these processes. The body of the thesis has four parts. Following the theoretical discussion in the next chapter (Chapter 2), Part I (Chapters 3 and 4), situates the topic of heritage in Hong Kong in the historical and contemporary context, justifying the interest in relationality and mobility. Part II (Chapters 5 and 6) treats heritage policy and the work of actors centrally involved in making and remaking it. Part III (Chapters 7 and 8) presents case studies of contestation over heritage buildings. Part IV (Chapter 9) moves beyond built heritage to consider the growing interest in the relationship between walking and heritage in the streets of Hong Kong. The following outline provides additional detail, revealing the arc of the thesis. Attempts to theorize heritage appear as variations on a theme. Critiques abound over several decades and well-established set of geographical concerns have been enshrined as relevant to the study of heritage. Chapter 2 discusses the main currents of heritage scholarship in geography, focusing the Western origins of modern conceptions of heritage, the social, economic 16 and cultural processes reflected in the recognition of urban heritage, and the specificities of a critical engagement with heritage in postcolonial Asian contexts. It goes on to argue that, although there has been a long-standing engagement with heritage in urban and cultural geography, key ideas about spatiality that are fundamental to contemporary geography have not yet been meaningfully considered in relation to heritage. The chapter thus attempts to establish the case for a reworked geography of heritage that takes into account the spatial conditions of relationality that define cities in the contemporary age. It also explains why Hong Kong is the setting for such an enterprise. Recognizing that heritage is seldom properly historically contextualized (Harvey, 2001), Chapter 3 examines the creation of Hong Kong’s heritage policy in the 1970s. Drawing on Foucault’s metaphor of “archaeology” as a historiographical methodology, it demonstrates that the relational character of heritage in Hong Kong has a long history, and that the development of the policy and early heritage debates were very much influenced by linkages that extended beyond Hong Kong. It also reveals that the policy was designed to privilege only forms of built heritage that would not be subject to profitable redevelopment. While many studies identify the Star Ferry and Queen’s Pier protests as a pivotal moment for heritage consciousness in Hong Kong, and evidence presented in this thesis confirms this, Chapter 4 casts a longer view, considering the uncertainty of the 1990s and especially politics since 1997. The chapter shows that heritage activism is a feature of time and place-specific urban social movements centrally interested in opposing entrenched neoliberal policy. The interest in heritage on the part of the government is also revealed to be part of a longer trajectory in which the importance of heritage as a feature of Hong Kong’s global image and brand development was articulated beginning in the late 90s. 17 Chapters 5 and 6 examine the challenges to and reassessment of the inherited heritage policy in the contemporary period, focusing on the role of agents within and outside of government. Chapter 5 specifically examines the processes of policy learning, an underdeveloped approach highlighted by McFarlane (2011), engaged by agents within and allied to the state. Following the cues developed by scholars of policy mobility, the chapter presents as a case study the activities of a post-secondary node for educating heritage professionals and policy makers, developing the idea that the state relies on sources exterior to it in exercises of filling policy knowledge gaps, and that these exercises are shaped by government ideologies. Although extensive policy learning activities were pursued, the government didn’t substantially alter the policy but rather chose to pursue initiatives and changes to the administrative structure. Following McCann (2011, p. 143), the absence of clear policy transformation can be understood as a form of presence that reveals the character of Hong Kong “within wider global constellations of people, places, and power.” Chapter 6 examines the involvement of non-state policy actors in the reassessment of heritage. The chapter asks how their perspectives on heritage have been informed by experiences of travel, living abroad, and return and, in doing so, highlights the emergence of a “new kind of politics” in the post-handover period, both among those who stayed and those who returned. Chapters 7 and 8 present case studies of contested publicly owned heritage sites in Central: Government Hill and the Central Market. Both of these places were included in the Conserving Central scheme, a government initiative unveiled as part of the government’s new commitment to heritage conservation. Central is the oldest urban district of Hong Kong and contains many of its most iconic buildings and streets. As the Central Business District, one of several tourist districts, and the most expensive and gentrified area in the city, it is not a typical 18 Hong Kong place. In fact, many Hong Kong residents who live in outlying areas of Kowloon and the New Territories rarely visit Central. However, my research revealed a strong identification among built environment experts with certain features of Central’s landscape, such as tong lau, markets, and steep slopes, perhaps heightened by their perceived or actual ephemerality. Furthermore, the contrasts (highlighted through the eyes of an outsider at the beginning of this chapter), the redevelopment pressure, and the visibility of this quarter make it a highly symbolic place for the government to engage in flagship conservation projects. These chapters explore contestation around two of these projects in order to underscore the motivations driving these plans, the different visions presented by activists and community members, and the broader significance of these oppositional currents. Chapter 7 examines how the government’s plan to pursue the conservation of Government Hill, while allowing the redevelopment of part of it for Grade A office space, was successfully challenged. Chapter 8 reads the plans for the Central Market in parallel with the objectives of urban environmental studies related to air quality, and suggests that in such cases heritage is a convenient vehicle to meet other objectives. Likewise, for activists following the plans, heritage stands in for a more generalized desire to democratize planning processes and interrupt the habitual development process. Chapter 9 moves from the relative monumentality of publicly-owned heritage buildings to more everyday forms and reflects on the relationship between the micro-scale mobilities of walking and heritage. Walking tours have emerged as a popular form of community engagement in Hong Kong and, far from a simple leisure experience, this chapter argues that they represent an important direction for an oppositional politics of living heritage in the city. The conclusion continues to draw on the theme of relationality running through the thesis by showing how Hong Kong’s experience of failing at recognizing and protecting heritage in the past has created the 19 conditions for it to be a leader in this area today, and that this prospect has important political implications. The conclusion also returns to the core contributions of the thesis and suggests hopeful directions for further work and thinking on this topic in Hong Kong and elsewhere. 20 Chapter 2: A Geography of Heritage in a World in Motion On June 15, 2009 the Chief Executive of the HKSAR, Donald Tsang, was an invited speaker at the 60th anniversary of the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC). The FCC has been a hub for foreign journalists working in Asia for decades and its membership now represents a broad range of professions. It is housed in a 120 year-old building in Central, one of a small handful of structures of this age in the urban core of Hong Kong. Tsang’s speech wove an unlikely narrative. He began by evoking the trope of Hong Kong as a “space of flows”7in which news and information move freely, enabled by the international media presence of the FCC. Such flows, remarked Tsang, contribute to Hong Kong’s “global competitiveness” and make the city a better place to live and do business (HKSAR, 2009a). He then moved from global spaces to local places: “Hong Kong is also a better place because of all the preservation work, the adaptive re-use, that has allowed lovely old buildings such as this to remain in excellent condition”. The remainder of the speech elaborated on this topic – built heritage – that at first glance appears antithetical to flows. Transnational entrepreneurial investors and flows of capital, after all, have shaped the construction of Hong Kong’s futuristic skyline and have been responsible for the demolition of many older neighbourhoods. But here the Chief Executive told a new story about the city’s landscape; how heritage conservation entered Hong Kong’s public and political discourse, introducing a novel vocabulary. This vocabulary, although focused on local buildings and places, is also informed by flows of people, information, and knowledge, 7 For Castells (1989) spaces of flows characterise the new informational mode of production in which technological innovation is the foundation of capitalist expansion through networks of globalization. Geographers (e.g. Cartier 2002, p. 257) have pointed out that the idea is one example of an interest in spatial processes across a number of disciplines in which such concepts foreground the importance of geographical processes but fail to engage with their material realities. 21 among other things. How to make sense of this relationship between flows, that are mobile, and heritage, that is rooted in place, is our question. This chapter provides the conceptual and theoretical framework for the dissertation. A more detailed explanation of the context for the research will unfold over several chapters. For the time being, the main point about Hong Kong to be considered is that it is a paradoxical place in which to conduct a geographical study of urban heritage. As such, it is an exceptional case which, I argue, may generate new ways of understanding the topic in question8. The chapter will present the theoretical premises that have guided the development of research questions and methodology, and will develop a conceptual argument to be borne out in empirical detail in later chapters. This argument is that the geography of heritage in cities should be reworked in order to account for the relational character of urbanism and that this can be done by loosening the long-standing association of heritage with bounded territories. As a place of networked, hybrid urbanisms, Hong Kong is the ideal city for this study. But far from being a case unique to Hong Kong, the dissertation will suggest that processes that are perhaps most visible in this setting are evident in other cities. Furthermore, the challenges faced by Hong Kong in the area of heritage and planning inspire innovative responses that may be useful elsewhere. The chapter is divided into five parts. The first part (2.1) discusses the concept of heritage and explains how it has been approached as a topic of scholarly inquiry. This section highlights the marginal position of heritage scholarship, partly a result of the elitist and Eurocentric connotations of the origins of the concept, and argues for its continued importance. The second section (2.2) discusses the unique challenges posed by urban heritage, which is drawn into the 8 Following Burawoy’s (1998) extended case method, research is a reflexive process through which theory is reconstructed. Theories need not be generated from generalizable facts but may proceed from exceptional cases. 22 fray of land use planning, ownership rights, and disparate interpretations of value and use. This is highlighted as an area that has not received due attention in the literature. As the research considers an ostensibly “global”, postcolonial, Asian and Chinese metropolis, the next section (2.3) references a growing literature on the various entanglements with heritage that have emerged in cities such as Singapore, Taipei and elsewhere in East and South East Asia. The final part of the chapter (2.4) explores how heritage has been studied by geographers, in particular those working in the subdisciplinary realms of cultural and tourism geography. It argues that the focus of heritage research on cases of place contestation has had the effect of anchoring heritage to what Tim Cresswell (2006) has called a “sedentarist” understanding of place. I suggest that bringing recent (and not so recent) reconceptualizations of place as dynamic, relational, assembled and multiply implicated in flows, mobilities and inter-scalar relationships, to bear on heritage contributes to a re-theorization of its geography. This possibility is foregrounded with an introduction of some of the recent discussions of scale and mobility, especially as they relate to urban policy, and a consideration of how these ideas might be usefully applied to heritage studies. 2.1 What is Heritage? Heritage has at once been overworked and overlooked as an object of scholarly inquiry. On the one hand, the literature appears to be saturated to the point at which the same arguments and debates are rehearsed with remarkable frequency; on the other hand it has remained isolated. Heritage research is not new; an article published in the Town Planning Review in 1975 began with the following words: “Almost everything which could possibly be said about conservation must surely, by now, have been said,” (Chapman, 1975) and yet the author went on to note that these same words had appeared several decades earlier! The interest in heritage among scholars 23 is due to its ubiquity in everyday life and complexity that belies its apparent common sense meanings. Despite the large and still growing literature, there are depths of this complexity that remain to be explored. Moreover, the fact that heritage is sometimes still portrayed as trivial or maligned as a conservative social phenomenon signals the continuing salience of work that explains it in relation to other contemporary processes, especially place-specific cultural economies and politics in new contexts. Academic writing on heritage began to emerge in the 1970s and 80s in parallel with an explosion of popular interest in the past. The English language literature began with critiques of the UK “heritage industry” (Hewison, 1987) and explanations of American fascinations with the past (Lowenthal, 1985; 1996) and the subjective understandings they encourage. Government intervention in the form of policies and programmes had been introduced almost a century earlier in parts of Europe and decades earlier in the United States (Boyer, 1996), but academics took notice only in the context of the cultural turn of the 1980s in the social sciences9. An interest in the conservation of nature that finds expression in parks and preserves has a longer history with roots going back to the 19th century worldview, first in Europe and later in the United States, of the Romantics who eschewed the industrial city in favour of a truer and healthier life experience in less populated settings (Nash, 1982). For the present purposes, the meanings of the term “heritage” were developed in Europe in a post-WWII moment of anxiety about the urban clear-cutting of modernist planning accompanied by nostalgia for idealized national pasts. It is this view of heritage, the power relations implicated in its production, its politics and exclusions, that scholars had in mind as they began to document and critique processes related to heritage 9 The emergence of interest in the idea of “heritage” and its material manifestations may be distinguished from the origins of conservation science as a practice, which extend to ancient times (Jokilehto, 1999). 24 identification, promotion and management. It is also this heritage that has been institutionalized, promulgated and adopted in corners and contexts quite distant from whence it originated. In the early stages, discussions in each discipline that had something to say about heritage were separated by a silo effect. Anthropologists, historians, geographers, archaeologists and cultural theorists wrote about heritage from within and for audiences in their respective disciplines. Only recently has a space of interdisciplinary dialogue with a critical bent begun to open. Indeed, the inaugural meetings of the International Critical Heritage Studies Association were held in 2012. The theme of the conference was “Re-Theorizing Heritage” and the organizers were clear on the intent of the conference; heritage as an object of inquiry had not kept apace with theoretical advances in the core disciplines in which its researchers operate, including feminist, post-structuralist, political-economic, and post-humanist critiques (International Association of Critical Heritage Studies, 2012). The lack of interdisciplinary dialogue had left some heritage researchers in the margins of their own disciplines, yet not always in the company of a like-minded scholarly community. At international geography conferences, for instance, papers discussing topics related to heritage are often spread across a number of different sessions and researchers do not necessary share common epistemological or methodological orientations. To further complicate matters, research that could contribute to theorizations of heritage often hones in on other closely-related ideas, such as social memory (Legg, 2005) or nostalgia (Blunt & Bonnerjee, 2012). Such critical engagements are often aligned with cultural studies or postcolonial approaches, leaving heritage, especially in North America, the purview of a subsection of cultural geographers interested in tourism, place marketing and historical landscapes. 25 The word “heritage” appears in everyday language in ways that undermine its complexity. Related concepts, such as inheritance and patrimony, point to its most simple meaning – something from the past that is given a useful expression in the present. When the sides of a delivery truck announce its contents – Custom Heritage Furniture – or when a sign indicating heritage varietals is displayed at the farmer’s market, the meaning of “the contemporary use of the past” (Graham, Ashworth & Tunbridge, 2000, p. 4) is immediately evoked. But why is a tomato or rocking chair that evokes the past interesting or desirable? Why is an object from the past that is given new meanings in the present interesting? In the modern era novelty is valorized and old objects are considered degraded or decaying. What kinds of objects from the past gain value as “heritage” when viewed or used in the present? Such questions lie at the beginning of the spectrum of scholarly inquiry on heritage. This work is varied, but much of it is characterized by a shared preoccupation with revealing and querying the implications of the lack of consensus on the value and meaning of objects of heritage, and the power relations exercised in processes of establishing the meaning of sites and buildings, negotiating them, marginalizing those meanings, and even erasing them (Graham et al., 2000; Smith, 2006). If there is consensus among scholars, it is that heritage does not have intrinsic properties; it is socially produced. David Lowenthal argued early on for this social constructivist understanding which now appears common sense. He wrote: “a heritage wholly saved or authentically reproduced is no less transformed than one deliberately manipulated” (Lowenthal, 1985, p. XVIII). Although this perspective may be shared among academics, this is far from the case among practitioners and lay people. Divergent understandings of the ontology of heritage have proved challenging for obvious reasons: “today the same place or building can be variously 26 viewed as a homely landmark, a relic of imperial oppression or a tempting commercial opportunity” (Shaw & Jones, 1997, p. 3). Beginning at the furniture store or farmer’s market, of course, implies the kind of elite consumption practices for which interest in heritage is often criticized. If one can afford to buy antique character furniture, and express choice in matters of style, one would find oneself on the middle to upper end of the class spectrum. Furthermore, if the interests expressed in the selection of said furniture tend towards the antique, mid-century modern, or French Second Empire, then it is quite likely that the aesthetic created in the home is reflective of cultural capital that is also expressive of class position (Bourdieu, 1984), and that the home environment is an effort, conscious or not, at reinforcing this position (Jager, 1984; Ley, 1996). The same could be said of heritage tomatoes; they serve as an amenity rather than a necessity and attention to them comes only when pursuits related to securing the necessities of life have been satisfied, or as a first priority for a small minority of aesthetes. The association of heritage with the upper echelons of the class spectrum is well established: “The will to conserve was the obsession of a passionate, educated and generally influential minority and the social, educational and political characteristics of heritage producers have changed little since the nineteenth century” (Graham et al., 2000, p. 15). Another less than glowing association is the Eurocentrism of dominant understandings of heritage. The conservation of monumental buildings was envisaged as a way of fostering nationalisms in European countries (Boyer, 1996) and it may be argued that heritage, as a concept and practice, still bears the weight of its European origins. These are, of course, hefty charges that might be levied not only at consumers of heritage, but also at researchers. Graduate students are advised to pursue research of great personal, even passionate interest. If this interest is heritage then it is incumbent upon the researcher/writer not to fall into the trap of 27 reinforcing less than positive associations. David Harvey (1997, p. 10) writes: “Meaningful political action (and, for that matter, even meaningful analysis) cannot proceed without some embedded notion of value, if only a determination as to what is or is not important to analyze intellectually let alone to struggle for politically.” There are many instances of heritage being used for particularist, exclusionary purposes – defending community, nation or class-based or racialized landscapes or life-worlds. It could be politically meaningful to explore and expose these dynamics in a study of identity politics. Writing on heritage in geography is not always oriented to such ends, nor need it be. One of the underlying themes of the present work, however, is to acknowledge the associations of heritage with elitism and Western cultural imperialism while continually writing against them. The starting point is a politics of heritage that lies within the spectrum of an urban social movement in Hong Kong. However progressive it may appear to be, heritage is by its nature subject to different interpretations and may be commodified, aestheticized and indeed politicized. I am thus continually vigilant in my interpretation of the meaning, value and use of heritage. For the present purposes we operate with the assumption that the materiality of heritage is important. This idea has been critiqued in a few different ways. Commentators have proposed going beyond materialism by conceiving of heritage as a process (Smith, 2006), understanding all heritage as intangible (Graham et al., 2010), questioning the ontology of heritage architecture (Tait & While, 2009), and thinking of heritage places as not only “seen” but also practised (Cresswell & Hoskins, 2006). While not denying that the overemphasis on visible heritage is problematic, I choose to not to abandon this heuristic. It is, after all, one of the primary facets of social fascinations with heritage. However, the discussion will not be limited to purely architectural forms and landscapes in the public realm, but also the policies and discourses that 28 shape the way material heritage is interpreted. I do not disregard other forms of heritage that have recently come into view. Scholars and practitioners have argued for the renewed importance of attending to “natural” heritage, especially in contexts where it is difficult to separate human settlements from pre-existing environments (Langfield, 2010). Likewise, interest in intangible heritage has grown rapidly, especially in parts of the world where material heritage is not valued to the same extent as in European traditions. Both natural and intangible heritage are important in Hong Kong where they cannot ever be entirely divorced from the built realm. For instance, recent efforts to illegally develop remote areas of the city’s country parks (its “natural” heritage) have revealed deficiencies in planning regulations (Harris, 2012, p. 223). In centrally located neighbourhoods such as the Graham Street market described in the introduction, redevelopment poses threats to long-established social networks, meaning that conservation through adaptive reuse will not be successful if it involves relocating residents, shops and services. Intangible and natural heritage will receive attention insofar as they intersect with the urban built environment. Geographers have written extensively on heritage as an expression of the materiality of place and the unequal power relationships in reading and reproducing heritage landscapes (Duncan & Duncan, 2004). The discipline has a significant opportunity to further contribute to the field by paying greater attention to the spatial processes of the politics of heritage. As we shall see, the geography of heritage has always been about place and space (Lowenthal, 1985; Graham et al., 2000), but it is still a project in the making. The next sections will situate the present contribution within a series of encounters between geography and heritage: in the city, in Asia and in the discipline as a whole. I will argue that geographical understandings have relied on naturalized assumptions about places and territories as bounded, self-contained entities. I will 29 go on to propose that geographers have not yet meaningfully explored the idea of “urban heritage” because the relational, global and interactive qualities of cities unsettle the sedentarist foundations upon which the dominant ways of thinking about heritage rely. 2.2 Heritage in the City Although much of the writing on heritage is about places in cities, the implications of what is at stake for heritage in the urban setting have not always been clear. Here, at a fundamental level, the cultural values of material heritage do not always accommodate the kinds of economic values that the capitalist landscape creates. An expression or celebration of the shared value of a landscape or object may not be enough to convince its owner, whether a private citizen or a state agency, to recognize it as heritage. Defenders of heritage landscapes in cities have at times been branded as “anti-modern”, their impulses disregarded as efforts to create “defensible space”, to retreat from the world of increasing difference and rapid change into something solid and secure (Barber, 2013). Heritage has also been cast as a feature of processes of urban capitalism and consumer practices. In cities these processes take on unique characteristics that require further exploration. Richard Sennett (1990, p. 123) wrote that in cities we are “in the presence of otherness.” There has been a tendency to celebrate this feature of city life both on the part of scholars and city residents. The city forms a hearth for creative subcultures, the political avant-garde and provides freedom for non-conformists; it is also a space of innovation and experimentation. It attracts dwellers that value these characteristics, or are indifferent to them. But for some, manifestations of “otherness” in the city can result in an insistence upon idealized and homogenous visions of place and home. This is sometimes the case in gentrifying neighbourhoods. My street in inner city Halifax, for instance, has experienced a slow but steady 30 turnover of properties from long-time working class and lower income families to young professionals and middle class families, from rented properties to owner-occupied houses. By 2011 only one occupied by the “old guard” house remained surrounded by newer arrivals. It so happened that the residents of this house included a teenager who was involved in the drug trade. After a series of incidents a neighbour circulated a letter outlining details of criminal activity at the property, encouraging reports of any unlawful activity to the police. Within a year the residents were forced out and the house was sold to new owners and renovated. Similar exclusionary efforts are more common in well-established elite neighbourhoods. In Vancouver, changes in the landscape of upper-middle class residential neighbourhoods brought on by a rapid influx of wealthy Chinese migrants in the 1990s resulted in the mobilization of exclusionary interpretations of the historic character of the place (Ley, 1995; 2011). Though heritage is not the primary focus, both cases involved the presence of a transgressive form of “otherness” that is incompatible with the sense of place that residents have constructed (Cresswell, 1996). One of the primary axes of contestation surrounding heritage is caused by confusion and conflicting interpretations of its economic value. This is especially the case for urban built heritage. Old objects may have intrinsic market values, but this is rarely the case for property, for which value is usually tied to market forces related to location, the market, maintenance and potential revenue. David Harvey (2012) has suggested that objects that are unique, but not so unusual as to be unrecognizable, are subject to a special form of valuation. In the market, cultural heritage products are subject to “monopoly rent”, the possibility of generating more capital than regular objects, because they viewed as authentic. An old building may have cultural, architectural and historical value that could translate into increased economic value as a heritage property when it is recognized as unique. The irony of this, Harvey explains, is that once 31 something becomes valuable because it is authentic and desirable, it may very quickly lose the qualities that made it interesting in the first place as it is replicated, fixed up, traded, and ultimately, commodified. It may be costly to renovate and maintain heritage structures, and require foregoing redevelopment opportunities, but surplus value and profit is a likely outcome. Further complications result when the potential redevelopment value of a building or site is brought into the equation. Harvey’s (1989) work on post-industrial restructuring and inter-urban competition in the context of globalizing economies provides a framework for understanding the emergence of heritage as a focal point for urban regeneration. In the neo-Marxian interpretation new forms of place promotion are efforts to create the conditions for the continued accumulation of capital under its increasingly mobile and globalized post-industrial phases. Flagship projects in former industrial zones on the waterfronts of many cities across North America and Europe are one of the strategies of the “entrepreneurial city”, which has in view the attraction of new commercial enterprises and investment. This is in contrast to earlier “managerial” modes of city governance characterized by service-provision (Harvey, 1989). State-led tourism and leisure oriented projects in revitalized city centres clearly indicate the potential for heritage to generate revenue directly through investment and also contribute to the city-image which has important but less tangible, longer term linkages to capital generation. Are such entrepreneurial city strategies evident in Hong Kong? Jessop and Sum’s (2000) study of Hong Kong as an “entrepreneurial city in action” highlights the city’s efforts to reposition its economy in relation to the shift in the manufacturing base across the border after the introduction of economic reforms by the PRC. In this context, entrepreneurialism is strongly equated with innovation, in particular the creation of new or the reorganization of existing regional economies. But they go on to write, “cities can be 32 entrepreneurial not only in regard to commodities and fictitious commodities, but also in regard to economically relevant factors that are not monetized and/or do not enter directly into exchange relations” (Jessop & Sum, 2000, p. 2290). Although it was not yet fully on Hong Kong’s agenda at the time they were writing, heritage has emerged, as it did earlier elsewhere, as one of those features that adds value to the entrepreneurial city and may or may not be bought and sold. The cultural economy of heritage in cities has been developed through a long-standing, but often unacknowledged (Smith, 1998), association with gentrification. Gentrification is the process whereby formerly disinvested and degraded areas experience reinvestment and rising property values. The concept is most commonly linked with the renovation of housing stock in older, inner city residential areas but has also been used to describe wholesale redevelopment and new-build construction. The usage first described by Ruth Glass (1964) in London, and subsequently in Canadian cities (Ley, 1996), American cities (Smith, 1996), and elsewhere (Atkinson & Bridge, 2005; Lees, Slater, & Wyly, 2008), may involve assigning heritage values to places that might otherwise be thought of simply as old. Gentrification as social upgrading, especially in the American context, has led to widespread displacement of populations marginalized along intersecting lines of class and race (Newman & Wyly, 2006). It is a ubiquitous, seductive and deeply aestheticized form of neoliberal urbanism and, as such, implications for housing affordability are often ignored in favour of celebrations of conviviality and consumption. Ley’s (1996) wide-ranging study of gentrification as a consumer-led process makes a strong and nuanced case for understanding heritage as a positional good used by new middle classes to display tastes inspired by higher levels of cultural capital. Built heritage is valorized for its aesthetic properties and becomes a marker of distinction for middle classes recolonizing city spaces that had previously been all but abandoned. He shows, however, that the 33 vision of the past presented in heritage homes, is produced by an eye keen to see only its aesthetic dimensions: It is the aesthetic eye that transforms ugliness into a source of admiration, that reshapes common, scorned, and used objects into icons of desire. Aesthetic distancing, a quality well-developed among social and cultural professionals, contains the creative power of transformation. (Ley, 1996, p. 310) The heritage home in a neighbourhood of streetscapes lined with intact, colourfully painted homes within walking distance of all manner of cultural, bodily and culinary amenities is part of the landscape of consumption that emerged in cities from the 1960s onwards. The people dwelling within its restored plaster walls and walking its refinished wood floors have none of the admiration of modern, futuristic visions that the generations who walked the same halls in the past might have had (Jager, 1986). For them, heritage is the décor for a preferred style of life. With evidence of similar alliances between heritage and gentrification documented on several continents, this is perhaps the realm of a global cultural elite. There are, however, place-specific differences that still remain to be developed. Ley and Teo (2013), for instance, query the non-adoption of gentrification as a descriptor for the effects of widespread renewal and redevelopment processes in Hong Kong. They suggest that the recent and growing critique of property governance in the territory may result in a shift in the discourse. If heritage became an object of consumptive desires, its early iterations had a more socially progressive appearance. In cities across the West, a defense of place against destructive modernist urban renewal and planning was an important orientation for urban activism in the post-war decades. Early commentators on the effects of top-down planning, including Jane Jacobs and Herbert Gans, articulated the experiences and sentiments of neighbourhoods experiencing rapid change caused by external forces. They inspired individuals – mainly liberal, 34 middle class, educated – to demand participation in the decision-making processes through which cities are planned, and in particular, in decisions that affect the way people live and interact in neighbourhoods. Jacobs began to write about planning while living in the New York of the 50s, facing the effects of deindustrialization and restructuring under the planning direction of Robert Moses who was intent on slum clearance and building high capacity road infrastructure. She developed now common-sense ideas about what makes public places and the urban structure appealing to people and, in turn, safe and welcoming. She proposed that older neighbourhoods, built before widespread automobile ownership, with low-rise buildings, walkable streets, mixed uses, and diverse populations are ideal for fostering community-based social connections (Jacobs, 1961). Herbert Gans (1962), writing about the Italian American North End of Boston (an area that Jacobs also wrote about), made similar arguments, and clearly demonstrated the detrimental effects of highway construction on the “urban village” he was studying. Canadian examples raise interesting questions regarding the successful mobilization of community-based movements that Jacobs had championed. Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown, faced the prospect of large scale renewal and freeway construction in the 1960s. Project 200, led by a coalition of politicians and corporate interests, would have replaced several blocks of 19th century commercial and industrial buildings and single room occupancy hotels – a decaying marginal space in the central city – with service sector office towers and supporting amenities. Ley’s (1996) treatment of this episode reveals that although Gastown was marginal, its storefronts were already turning over to small business owners who were part of the counter cultural scene. They and their supporters successfully fought Project 200, and so did the adjacent Chinatown community which would have been similarly affected. Within the next decade the 35 area evolved rapidly with the arrival of creative classes, tourists, and later condo conversions and new spaces of consumption. As Ley (1996, p. 239) writes, what began as a grass-roots movement reflecting “a desire for human space, resounding with the difference of history, spontaneity, and independent self-creation” ended by creating the conditions for the less jarring, more gradual reinvention of the district through piecemeal gentrification. Similar stories played out in other Canadian cities, such as Halifax (Barber, 2013), where middle class residents’ associations challenged modernist city designs by revalorizing devalued inner city precincts as heritage districts. Australia provides an interesting comparison. In the early 1970s residents of Sydney worked with construction industry trade unions to organize strike actions to withhold labour from projects deemed harmful to the urban environment. These actions, the “green bans”, mark an important moment in the development of environmental politics and the broadening of heritage discourses in Australia. It is particularly important to note alliances between unions and community-based interests, which, as Anderson and Jacobs (1999) point out, were led by women navigating slippery boundaries between private and public spheres. Furthermore, the areas affected were not only middle-class, but also working class districts such as The Rocks, where the maintenance of affordable and accessible housing was a foremost concern. The solidarities and purposes of this movement resonate with the dynamics of heritage activism in Hong Kong in a complexity that is not reducible to an intellectual fascination with the past. The broader transformation across the West, from top-down modernist urban reinvention, to participatory planning is marked by an interest in what geographers have long articulated as “sense of place”, which is also central to the Hong Kong situation (Relph, 1976). The trajectories of heritage 36 movements in these debates, however, as demonstrated by the case of Gastown, and, as we will see, of Singapore, is more ambiguous. 2.3 Urban Heritage with Asian Characteristics? It would be foolhardy to attempt to write a geography of heritage in Asia using the same conceptual cues and analytical framework as have been applied in North America or Europe. The fact that the discourse of heritage originated in the West, as we have seen, has important, often unacknowledged, implications in other parts of the world (Smith, 2006). A critical reading reveals that the literature on heritage in East and South-East Asia has begun to grapple with regional specificities, including culturally divergent interpretations of heritage, histories of colonization and occupation, forms of governance premised upon rapid integration into global markets and, in some countries, strong civil society movements. However, this is an ongoing process and in many instances Eurocentric perspectives persist in disregard of, or in combination with, national and local needs and desires. The present project draws on English-language literature, mainly by geographers or researchers in closely related disciplines such as sociology and urban planning to query both contextual specificities and the relationship between this context and heritage as a global phenomenon. In particular, it asks what the experiences of Hong Kong can teach us about the processes through which heritage is commodified as a feature of a globalizing urban landscape, but also the ways its constitution as such is continually destabilized and contested by alternative positions in which heritage is a form of “popular culture… produced through the common relationships of daily life” (Harvey, 2012, p. 112) and resistant to marketization in spite of being continually pressured by its forces (Zhang, 2006). It is no accident that much of the writing on heritage in Asia is about colonial heritage. Monumental buildings and landscapes displaying European architectural idioms adapted for 37 tropical climates were marked with ambiguity upon decolonization (Kusno, 2010). For some, they were innocuous reflections of history, not always architecturally stunning but more interesting given their hybrid features and juxtapositions with local forms. An unspoken but underlying assumption is that external forces are required for the stewardship of these buildings. The subtitle of an edited volume on heritage in South-East Asia and Western Australia – Voices from the periphery (Shaw & Jones, 1997) – inadvertently reinforces the centrality of Europe in the reckoning of heritage in post-colonies. On the edge of the world, the book suggests, in rapidly developing economies with shaky political regimes, the treatment of heritage is far less magnanimous than in the heartland. Furthermore, those who might advocate for heritage may not be present. Tunbridge, Ashworth and Graham (2010, p. 5) write, "The receding tide of empire has left large swathes of heritage 'high and dry', leaving those who created and might associate with it far distant or indifferent while those who now live with and 'own' it are potentially hostile or neglectful." This statement suggests a denial of the dynamics of colonial memory in postcolonial settings. Furthermore, the appearance of the word “own” in scare quotes indicates a note of skepticism. A possibility other than neglect or hostility is that owners and broader publics might invest new meanings in historic landscapes and that such landscapes might not be as neatly indexed into the opposed grammars of European or indigenous points of reference as conventional views suggest they ought to be. Much work remains to be done on heritage in postcolonial settings, both colonial and “local” forms, and especially the interesting mélange that has resulted from their meeting. Brenda Yeoh (2001, p. 46) reminds us that “postcolonial memory is a fraught terrain, contested and multistranded, and woven around the politics of inclusion and exclusion, of remembering and forgetting.” This is important to remember in Hong 38 Kong where at times in the past, and still in the present, the valorization of heritage may appear to be, or may in fact be, inspired by a form of colonial nostalgia. If the literature on heritage in Asia has not always dealt explicitly with postcolonialism, it has begun to address the realities of Asian urbanism and politics, especially in Singapore. As a centre of English-language education in Asia, and a multi-ethnic city-state that developed policies and programmes for protecting built heritage relatively early, in the 1970s and 1980s, Singapore is the subject of numerous books and articles treating the topic of heritage (Yeoh & Huang, 1996; Chang & Yeoh, 1999; Yuen, 2005; Kong, 2011). The themes explored in these works range from the designation of ethnically-distinct conservation districts as a nation-building tool, the creation of heritage landscapes for tourist consumption (Teo & Yeoh, 1997), the gentrification of vernacular districts (Chang 1997, Chang & Teo, 2009), and the inclusion of heritage in place-branding efforts aimed at bolstering Singapore’s status as a global city (Chang et al., 2004). Singapore’s heritage policies were developed during a period of rapid economic expansion and in the context of a land shortage following the implementation of large-scale social housing schemes in the 1960s. This is a particularly interesting case for considering the relationship between heritage and government strategic planning, especially with respect to tourism promotion and economic development. In Singapore, like in Hong Kong, the state plays a central role in land planning, housing and property development, all of which affect the treatment of built heritage. Singapore’s Urban Renewal Authority is charged with these responsibilities and intervened early by creating a number of conservation districts in areas with distinct architecture, some of them in line for redevelopment, including Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam. Cities and regions in Singapore’s closest neighbor, Malaysia, have also pursued heritage as an economic development strategy by adding historic landscapes to the 39 spaces of leisure offered to tourists, at times leading to conflicts with communities that hold different visions for their use (Cartier, 1998; 1997). The shophouse is a South-East Asian architectural genre (with numerous variations) that offers insight into the disjunctures and continuities between state-led heritage tourism and the desires of local residents in Singapore and Malaysia and, to a lesser extent, Hong Kong. Shophouses featuring ground floor commercial space and residences on the upper floors began to appear in the 1820s in Singapore and other trading ports (Lee, 2003). As housing for the working class, subdivided into multiple units as real estate became scarce through the 20th century, shophouses were not recognized to have heritage value until recently. Very few remain in Hong Kong but Singapore retained entire districts through early intervention. Chang (1997) and Chang and Teo (2009) explore the reinvention of Singapore’s Chinatown shophouses as boutique hotels as an example of entrepreneur-led heritage conservation. Products of a local creative economy, they suggest, the hotels project different meanings than their grand colonial counterparts, but also mark the problematic commodification of a building form traditionally part of the vernacular city landscape. Nonetheless, Chang (1997) finds that these businesses were not exclusively for the use of tourists and that they provided opportunities for locals to enjoy their city, albeit as middle-class consumers. The possibility of renovating older properties for boutique hotels and up-market restaurants and shops made the heritage conservation district’s strict covenants palatable for investors and private owners. Although profits were likely a primary motive, the entrepreneurs contributed to the construction of a global city image that includes cultural infrastructure such as built heritage (Kong, 2007). Whether or not heritage as “amenity” is for locals or tourists is, in the final instance, secondary to its role in attracting capital. This is not unique to Singapore; it is “reminiscent of place marketing strategies employed in the 40 European as well as North American continents. These strategies are the outcome of the interplay between global economic forces on the one hand and local level planning on the other” (Yeoh & Teo, 1996, p. 193). What is unique to Singapore is that the city-state governance structure, and its guiding developmental ideology, allows the articulation of national visions at the level of the urban fabric, something not easily achieved in larger state systems. It would be possible to conclude that built heritage in cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Hanoi and Singapore is destined for one of two fates: commodification for tourist and local consumption, like the selective preservation of shikumen houses in Shanghai’s Xintiandi district (Ren, 2011), or preservation and interpretation for educational purposes. However, there are examples that challenge such assumptions. In particular, civil society groups are encouraging state agencies and private owners to forego profit-driven plans for schemes that emphasize use-value and collective interests. They are also unsettling the dominant historical narratives inscribed in national monuments and museums. In Singapore, for example, a government plan to build an eight-lane highway through Bukit Brown, the country’s oldest burial ground, was challenged by environmental organizations and heritage groups (SCMP, 2012). Many of the grave sites are unmarked and recent investigations by amateur historians have found clan leaders and Chinese merchants among the buried. However, the government has ignored calls for a UNESCO World Heritage designation for the site and works recently began. The controversy is a rare occurrence in Singapore, where the authoritarian state works hard to maintain high levels of public support and preclude criticism. The government’s reluctance to deviate from its plans is partially due to the incongruence of this site with state-sanctioned heritage (Henderson, 2011), and the severe land shortage. In a similar case in Taipei, a rapid transit expansion required the relocation of the Lo-sheng Sanatorium, a care facility for sufferers of Hansen’s disease (leprosy). 41 The retention of the facility became a cause of the student movement, which framed the significance of the site in terms of cultural heritage. The specificity of Asian heritage is especially evident in ideas about value and resulting approaches to conservation. In Singapore, government action on heritage in the 1980s was partially inspired by the need to reassert “Asian values” in the face of rapid westernization. “Urban conservation in Singapore can thus be seen primarily as an attempt on the part of the state to create and provide a sense of historical continuity and local cultural identity as a foil to alien values in a rapidly changing society” (Yeoh & Huang, 1996). This argument proposes heritage conservation as a neutral discourse that may be easily transposed from one context to the next. In contrast, elsewhere in Asia, culturally specific approaches have been developed both through local and national efforts, and also in correspondence with international agencies and institutions. The meetings at Nara, Japan, for instance, and the resulting Document on Authenticity (UNESCO, 1994) initiated a discussion on the diversity of interpretations of authenticity and heritage conservation in Asia. This was followed by the development of the Hoi An Protocols (UNESCO, 2009) that further articulated “Asian” perspectives. These efforts problematized the application of “global” practices, Western in origin, under widely varying circumstances. For instance, in Japan, the rebuilding of religious monuments, such as the Ise shrine, is an adaptation to climate and local custom and requires particular materials and building techniques. Though never allowed to age beyond a few decades, the structure is nevertheless “authentic” (Qian, 2007). Whether these perspectives may accommodate the wholesale reproduction of heritage sites that have become popular with tourists in China remains to be seen. Locally- or nationally-specific, these perspectives are nonetheless the product of far-reaching networks and global expertise. Ironically, notes Qian (2007, p. 263), “the drawing up 42 and the implementation of national charters and regional protocols are more or less dependent on expertise from abroad.” The discussions at Hoi An and Nara and the experience of Singapore and a handful of other cities situate heritage as a global phenomenon with place-specificities related to the cultures, politics and economics of Asia. Hong Kong leadership welcomes the application of some ideas developed in the Asian context, but the further refinement of others. As we will see in later chapters, the recognition of heritage as an important area for tourism in the 1990s, for instance, did not translate into policy amendments as readily in Hong Kong as it had in Singapore. Museums were developed, especially in the New Territories, but the land market in urban neighbourhoods proved too lucrative to disrupt. But the transition to Chinese sovereignty and accompanying identity politics inspired not only an interest in Hong Kong heritage, which Abbas (1997b) suggests is the visibility of a Hong Kong culture at the moment of its disappearance, but also a challenge to the operation of the land market – both within a framework of continuing concern about how Hong Kong is changing under Chinese sovereignty. Hence heritage, from one perspective, does not appear to be the easy ally of capitalism it has been in so many other places, and it is also intensely politicized. A civil society, driven by radical student groups and with links to the anti-globalization movement, sees heritage not as an amenity, a feature of the city’s brand, or a commodity, but rather a way of building community, articulating city life and finding use value and continuity amidst the ever-changing high-rise landscapes. A number of commentators have explored these dynamics, particularly focusing on heritage as an expression of Hong Kong culture that is related to but separate from “China’s Chinese”, and as an indication of a shift in values and the democratization of urban planning (Cody, 2002; Kenworthy-Tether & Chow, 2003; Chu, 2007; Henderson, 2008; Leung & Soyez, 43 2009; Cheng & Ma, 2009; Lu, 2009; Ku, 2010; Chung, 2011). The crux of much of this work has been to understand why heritage emerged as important when it did, and to consider how celebrated heritage places reflect various Hong Kong stories. This thesis seeks to contribute to this growing literature by considering how Hong Kong’s distinct historical and present-day geography, conditioned by relationships with other places including the Mainland, Britain and elsewhere, may influence the politics of heritage in ways not previously considered in this context or others. 2.4 Geographies of Heritage Geographical writings on heritage have appeared in subdisciplinary niches as well as in the interdisciplinary space of heritage studies. Among cultural geographers, heritage is an expression of place through which identities are produced, reinforced or denied (Ley 1996, Shaw 2006). As explained above, in the urban setting, politics, economics and property, confounded by social inequality, consumption, migration, planning and various other factors complicate the picture. Heritage can say many things about many different kinds of places at different scales, from the nation and cosmopolitan diasporic communities right down to the level of the neighbourhood or home. Of particular interest to geographers are the spatial representations around and within which heritage is constructed. These may including museum displays (Crang and Tolia-Kelly 2010), iconic architecture and monuments (Kong 2007), residential landscapes (Duncan & Duncan 2004), and various other tangible and intangible forms. The prospect that a unified vision of heritage can be created at any scale is a fiction with potentially devastating repercussions: “The creation of any heritage actively or potentially disinherits or excludes those who do not subscribe to, or are embraced within, the terms of meaning defining that heritage” (Graham et al., 2000). This reality, stemming from the social construction of the meanings of 44 heritage in heterogeneous spaces is of potentially endless interest. There will always be heritage, it will always be contested and potentially exclusionary and there will always be critics to draw attention to and explain these exclusions. The challenge for geographers is to deepen the analysis; to not only explain contestation of spatial representation but to show also how the processes by which heritage, both in its material and discursive dimensions, is produced, managed and circulated are profoundly spatial as well. A book entitled The Geography of Heritage: Power, Culture, Economy (Graham et al., 2000) is the most sustained effort to theorize an agenda for the geographical engagement with heritage, making the case that heritage is a thoroughly geographical phenomenon. Though it was intended as a corrective to the isolation of heritage within geography, detached from economic and cultural streams and forming a “self-sustaining if micro-scale theme”, its influence was strongest in heritage studies. It appeared at a moment when this interdisciplinary area was beginning to blossom.10 The authors make the case that heritage and geography intersect in three principal ways (Graham et al., 2000, p. 255). First, they suggest that heritage phenomena have spatial characteristics, meaning that they can be located, they are distributed through space and that they are associated with different scales. Second, they argue that the inherently unstable and contingent significance of heritage, frequently expressed in the meanings attached to places, are best understood through the lens developed by cultural geographers that is attentive to power and representation (Duncan & Ley, 1993). Third, they propose that heritage can be an important component of economic development and place marketing strategies. Each of these areas of 10 Ten years on, the authors published a decennial reflection on the book’s arguments and its impact (Tunbridge et al., 2010). This, tellingly, was published in the International Journal of Heritage Studies, not in a geography journal. 45 congruence is elaborated at length with nuanced discussion and many examples. Although the book does succeed in showing how heritage may be a feature of geographical processes, for the most part it offers a generalist approach, emphasizing the contestation resulting from the myriad ways heritage is produced and consumed. In their post-hoc decennial reflections the authors themselves note that much of the book is devoted to case studies of conflicts that emerge from a lack of clarity on the economics of heritage and “the consequences of the simple reality that heritage costs money but also may earn it” (Tunbridge et al., 2010, p. 3). I would add that there are two areas that should be further developed. The first is the spatiality of heritage, especially in relation to scale and mobility. The second is the distinct challenge posed by land use planning, property and political economy in cities. The latter, is, of course, related to the first when we recognize cities as relational entities, made and re-made through their human, political and economic connections. 2.4.1 A relational geography of heritage: Rethinking scale and mobility Most of the ways in which heritage is discussed, used, critiqued and reproduced rely on naturalized assumptions about what scale is and how it operates. This dissertation encourages a reassessment of these assumptions. As scale is “one of the few boats crafted and launched by geographers”, (Hoefle, 2006, p. 238) geography bears some responsibility for ensuring productive engagements with it. Understood and critiqued (in one of many possible definitions) as “a nested hierarchy of differentially sized and bounded spaces” (Marston et al., 2005, p. 417), scale is at the heart of geographical enquiry. These spaces, of course, refer to global, national, regional, local and bodily registers. Though commonly used by scholars as a methodological and analytical tool, and in practice as a political frame, the significance of scalar thinking is often taken for granted and has only recently come under scrutiny. Scholars have highlighted the 46 socially constructed nature of scales, their co-production, and the dimensions of power inherent in their creation and use (Marston, 2000). Much of this work, in crude terms, has been carried out by economic geographers keen to theorize the relationship between national and global economies in the context of postindustrial urban restructuring (for example, Brenner & Theodore, 2002). However, the insights produced in these discussions are important for the use of scale in the broadest terms. A particular challenge comes when we try to think about how horizontal activities and relationships (exemplified by networks, flows and mobility) exist within, across and between scales (whether or not they are socially produced or actually existing). Marston et al (2005, p. 422) wrote that “most empirical work is lashed to a relatively small number of levels. Once these layers are presupposed, it is difficult not to think in terms of social relations and institutional arrangements that fit their contours.” While they go so far as to propose abandoning scale altogether, others have emphasized the need to think critically about how to conceptualize scale when writing about processes that don’t fit neatly into the levels it prescribes. If most academic writing on heritage presupposes scale in some way, one of the most explicit engagements with it appears in The Geography of Heritage, which includes four chapters with “scale” in the title (Graham et al., 2000). The authors recognize that different scales of heritage interact and overlap, frequently as a matter of contestation. However, though they start out by noting the messiness of scale, they go on to reinforce the separateness of scalar registers by comparing them and studying their dissonances or agreements. Thus, the four chapters correspond to different scales: local, national, continental and global. Here I build upon their contribution by asking how scalar designations affect conceptualizations of heritage. One way to do this is to think of scale relationally. Different scales of heritage are not only in conflict or 47 harmony, but rather come into being and are continually reworked in relation to one another; the reason for this is that the social relations that produce meaning are not limited to one scale. They exist in scalar frames but always simultaneously through interactions and relationships between them. The authors also make reference to “the standardization of professional practice” (Graham et al., 2000, p. 218) and the potential homogenization of heritage forms. It is such horizontal processes that need more attention because they unsettle the idea that scales exist as separate, vertical levels. It is by way of considering mobility that I propose to develop this attention. Given the recent and still rising tides of mobility research, it is surprising that the intersections of this concept with heritage have not been considered. Indeed, scholars have gone so far as to herald the arrival of a “new mobilities paradigm” (Hannam et al., 2006) or a “mobilities turn” (Cresswell, 2011). While the usefulness of such declarations is questionable (Cresswell, 2010), attention to all manner of mobilities is no doubt vital to understanding our contemporary conditions. The “mobility turn” has come about partly as a result of attempts to fill in amorphous descriptors that have been used to make sweeping generalizations about globalization. “Flows”, “connections”, “networks” and similar terms were, until recently, accepted with little material evidence of their existence. The deepening theoretical sophistication of these discourses (Ong, 1999) has not detracted from the need for greater explanation and this is one of the reasons for the emergence of this approach which places mobility, and attendant concepts of immobility and moorings, at the centre of human experience. Here, to recognize that the world is interconnected by things and people on the move is not to give in to a narrative of deterritorialization, but to understand that territories (some more than others) are already in part constituted through their relationships with other places (Sheller & Urry, 2006). 48 Two relatively new ways of thinking about mobility are of interest to the present project, one focused primarily on socio-cultural dynamics of human mobility, the other on the political economic implications of interactions between cities. Within the former an agenda has developed around interrupting the “sedentarist” world view upon which much earlier social science research was based, in which mobility was exceptional, outside of the norm, disruptive to territorial stability and the enduring allure of home and place as containers for social relations and politics (Cresswell, 2011). The latter attempts to use mobility as a methodological and analytical tool to better understand processes of globalization and neoliberal urbanism. A primary interest of this work has been to study policy mobilities (McCann, 2011b). There has been little correspondence between these areas of research, likely due to the different theoretical and analytical traditions in which they developed, the first humanistic and sociological and the second poststructural and neo-Marxian. Here I propose that a relational analysis of heritage attentive to policy may contribute to both areas. Mobilities research is interested in understanding the increasing pervasiveness and diversity of forms of movement in the contemporary world. Its authors attempt to distinguish their agenda from earlier research in related areas of transport studies and migration research, while simultaneously recognizing these areas as antecedents. For instance, unlike earlier work in transport geography, it is concerned with the power relations that undergird mobilities, as well as the construction of the meanings of mobility; it is hence both political and critical in orientation, but has at its core an effort to document and explain practices of mobility, the spaces and contexts within which they occur, and the representations and discourses that accompany them. Cresswell (2011, p. 552) has written that mobility “is as much about meaning as it is about mappable, calculable movement.” As such, one of the primary interests has been in fleshing out 49 what happens between “A and B”. Although there are “things”, “information” and “ideas” on the move, the emphasis is overwhelmingly on human mobilities. The first of several progress reports on the topic of mobilities (Cresswell, 2011) includes mention of research on human travel by automobile, foot, airplane, canoe, train and bicycle. Virtual online mobilities have also been of particular interest. The increasing ease of travel and communication is tempered by a recognition that access to mobility as a resource may differ across visible and invisible markers of identity, including class, gender, ability, sexuality and ethnicity. The related attention to moorings and immobilities has also been a frequent motif (Hannam et al., 2006). Although there have been efforts to develop the relationship between mobility and place (Baerenholdt & Granas, 2010), the critique of sedentarism from which much of this research departs renders this problematic. It is not necessary to prioritize ideas of bounded, rooted places but it must be useful to consider how they are bound up with mobilities. Since heritage is often used to reinforce the uniqueness of places and to deepen the rootedness of whole, exclusionary senses of identity, mobility would appear a deeply disruptive force. Throughout the course of this dissertation we will see many examples that problematize this assumption. Urban scholars, while not with heritage in view, have begun to consider how cities, as territorial entities, are increasingly in dynamic correspondence with one another, albeit in unequal and differentiated ways (McCann & Ward, 2011). The task here is to consider how interurban connections, such as those forged in the realms of policy, reflect and contribute to processes of globalization. In the context of neoliberal urban entrepreneurialism and competitiveness, where cities vie to attract certain kinds of business, immigrants and investment, some cities become leaders in urban policy. In China, cities look to Hong Kong and Shanghai, and more recently Shenzhen (Zhang, 2012); in North America, Vancouver and Portland’s urban 50 planning strategies are watched carefully. “Policy agents”, both official representatives of the state and a cast of others, are involved in circulating and finding policy models and ideas and adapting them to local conditions. The motivations animating this work are related to power: policy makers are not purely rational actors picking and choosing from an international smorgasbord of options (Peck, 2011): their activities are shaped by ideology, institutional arrangements, and path dependencies (McCann, 2011a, p. 209). Policy mobilities research draws on a number of theoretical referents, including the Neo-Marxian dialectics of fixity and flow (Harvey, 1989), and Massey’s writings on the relationality of place (1994; 2005). Increasingly, urban policies are the products of the dynamic exchanges between the cities where they are elaborated. In the context of interurban competitions to be the most global, livable, hip, green, or historic – and ultimately to attract capital investment policy agents seek and share best practices. The domains of policy highlighted by scholars range from drug policy (McCann, 2008) to urban regeneration (González, 2011) to business improvement districts (Ward, 2006) to sustainability plans (Temenos & McCann, 2012). In Asia, policies referencing culture, either the “software” of the creative economy (Kong et al., 2006), the “hardware” of flagship cultural infrastructure (Kong, 2007), or symbolic architecture (Cartier, 2002), have begun to receive attention through perspectives attentive to inter-city connections. Heritage has rapidly been adopted as a feature of the cultural policy repertoire (in some places, such as Hong Kong, more recently than others, such as Singapore), yet it has not received much attention beyond place-based studies. The study of mobile policies adds new social and political dimensions to our understanding of city-making in a globalizing world by honing in on the specific practices and representations through which urban spaces are connected. While it has long been recognized 51 that cities are the recipients of various economic, social and cultural “flows,” the city itself has sometimes been viewed as only ever on the receiving end. Doreen Massey (1994) has been critical of this framing of “place” as the victim of a faceless “global”. Taking her position on board, the study of urban policy mobilities recognizes the dialectical relationship between the city as a territorial entity and the city formed through global-relational networks. In other words, “the jarring of a territorial politics with another geography of flows and interconnections” (Massey, 2005, p. 14). Furthermore, since it undermines the hegemonic, all pervasive appearance of globalization, it opens possibilities for progressive change. Although recent work has identified the importance of attending to the “apparently mundane” practices of policy agents (McCann, 2008; McCann 2011b), there is a need for much more research on the human mobilities that put policy in motion. Policies are not inherently mobile, but rather are bundled, packaged, (mis)represented, projected, shared, communicated by people through complex power-laden social and political processes. Even where policies are not transferred or changed, this is still a productive process. Here, the interest Cresswell (2010) has expressed in the meaning of “what happens between A and B” is just as important as the end result. Anthony King’s work (1984; 2004) on architecture as a “global culture” has investigated the mobilities of city forms that one might think of as very solid and “sunken”, embedded in the material infrastructure of cities. He discusses the globalization of architectural forms, such as the south Asian “bungalow” and the American skyscraper and their expansion from geographically specifiable origins into ubiquitous and popular forms. This is a very material geography that resonates with some of the same interests as the current work on policy mobilities. But by using a different grammar, one not wedded to one idea like policy, the matter of King’s research is broader, running the gamut: “ideas, techniques, standards, design ideologies and the worldwide 52 diffusion of information, images, professional cultures and subcultures (of architecture, city planning, urban design, conservation)” (King, 2004, p. 32). Others working on urban policy mobilities have expressed skepticism at the ways their object of study has been framed. John Friedmann, for example, has asked for clarification “about what exactly is moving when policy travels.” (quoted in Jacobs, 2012, p. 414). Certainly, people are traveling; they may be responsible for developing policy or simply for learning about it and translating it. McCann and others have also drawn attention to the material supports of policy on the move, which include powerpoint presentations, brochures, reports and other objects used to convey policy knowledge. It is important not to limit the scope of analysis to a specific idea of policy because there are so many people and things that contribute to its production. In particular, in Hong Kong, there is constant action (and mobility) surrounding heritage policy, including learning, capacity building, and research, but little in the way of substantive policy changes. Although there has not yet been an in-depth attempt to develop an understanding of the conceptual relationship between heritage and mobility, there has been work that points in this direction. In the 1990s scholars established the connection between tourism mobilities and the valorization of heritage, but heritage landscapes were presented as static expressions of local places, thus in contradistinction with global movements (Chang & Yeoh, 1999). Furthermore, the growth of mass tourism became a threat to heritage (Graham et al., 2000, p. 22). Other work has hinted at interactions beyond the tourism-local heritage nexus. Beaumont’s (2009) research on the Changi Prison as a site of memory, for instance, hints at the possibility of transnational or mobile heritage imaginary. The present project takes a different tack by considering the range of questions posed by heritage as an urban problem. It begins, contrary to the inherited impulse, by considering “relational space” as not threatening to heritage, but at the core of its global reach. 53 2.5 Conclusion This chapter has introduced scholarly approaches to heritage within the context of the emergence of broad social and intellectual fascinations with the ways the past appears and is used in the present. It has noted the challenges of reckoning with heritage in urban settings, and considered Asian specificities related to heritage as a taken-for-granted universal category. The geography of heritage has thus far been wide-reaching in scope, touching upon issues related to identity, the political economy of the city as evidenced in consumption and the spatial restructuring under late capitalism. However, gaps in the discussion, as evinced the Graham et al (2000) volume, limit the horizon of the geographical understanding of the workings of heritage. In particular, the spatiality of heritage should be reconsidered in light of sustained critical attention directed towards key ideas that foreground spatial processes. For instance, the implications for heritage of Massey’s work on the relationality of place (1991; 2005), understandings of scale as socially constructed heuristic (Marston et al., 2005), and writings on mobility have not been taken up in relation to heritage. The goal of this thesis is thus in part to offer a reworked geography of heritage that is responsive to global spatial processes that influence the ways places are made, contested and projected to the world. Moreover, the purpose is not only to bring this idea back a bit from the fringe at which it is currently located, but also to show what geography can contribute to interdisciplinary critical heritage studies. Hong Kong has begun to reckon with heritage as an aspect of its land-based political economy, its cultural transition, and its political landscape. It is in this place that a relational geography of heritage may be developed. 54 Chapter 3: Rereading the History of Heritage in Hong Kong The Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) devoted a considerable amount of time and energy after its formation in 1977 to the topic of commemorative plaques. A surprisingly simple idea provoked much discussion. The possibility of installing plaques to mark historically significant locations was first raised by R. H. Lobo, on behalf of the Rotary Club, in 1972 (Antiquities Advisory Board, 1977). The idea was then taken up by the Hong Kong Tourist Association, but not seriously considered until the introduction of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (the Ordinance) in 1976. The discussion was then passed on to the AAB. It was decided that a programme would be developed involving plaques marking three types of locations: those where important buildings once stood, those related to significant historical figures, and those where key events had occurred. Plaques were attractive for several reasons: they are an inexpensive method for showcasing heritage and history to local residents and visitors; they involve little investment or maintenance; perhaps most importantly, they do not require significant concessions by property owners. With the territory’s heritage policy newly codified in law, the plaques would be a visible, tangible demonstration in the public sphere of the colonial government’s nominal commitment to heritage. They were also ideally suited for Hong Kong, where few reminders of the past remained in the ceaselessly reinvented landscape. Thus, a plaque could be affixed to a modern high-rise building, and still serve its function of representing the past, long- or recently-vanished from view, replaced by a modern rendition on steel, concrete and glass. This practice was common in other cities, part of an emerging repertoire of heritage interpretation used for the purposes of tourism promotion and public education. The Board heard of the Greater London Council’s blue ceramic plaques and of Vienna’s practice of marking the many former places of 55 residence of W. A. Mozart (Antiquities Advisory Board, 1977). If plaques were a suitable gesture for historical European capitals, they represented a strategic direction for the Hong Kong government: recognizing the past with minimal disruptions to present and future growth. The initiative was officially endorsed by the AAB on 3 October, 1977 and a press conference was held to announce the project and invite input from the public. A list of potential sites began to take shape: the former locations of the first Supreme Court, The Old Royal Mint, The Matheson Bungalow at the original Jardine Lookout, Lot No. 1 (the first plot of land auctioned by the British Government after the establishment of the colony); former places of residence of Sun Yat-sen, tropical medicine innovator Patrick Manson, and painter George Chinnery; and Possession Point and the former shorelines, lost to successive harbour reclamation schemes. It is obvious at first glance that the list is populated with places associated with colonial history. In 1979, the details for a trial run were finalized. The plaques would be plum coloured and elliptical in shape, fashioned in metal by the Prisons department. Text descriptions would appear in English and Chinese, side-by-side, with a note indicating sponsorship by the Antiquities Authority. Embossed images of the places described would also be presented. The first plaques were confirmed for the site of the original City Hall (to be affixed to the present Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation) and the Excelsior Hotel, the location of lot No. 1. Several of the principal currents of early heritage conservation efforts in Hong Kong may be identified in this seemingly minor initiative. First, the eagerness of the AAB to distill descriptions of the city’s lost landmarks for public viewing is part of a strategy for addressing the scarcity of historical elements of the built environment and of justifying the conditions that create this scarcity. Places that have been transformed or no longer exist may be made visible when marked with a plaque. This is not only a way to atone for past missteps; existing buildings 56 need not be retained if they may receive similar treatment in the future. Commemoration is, of course, a strategy for invoking and shaping collective memories (Till, 2005). Given, as we shall see, the lack of protection afforded to historic buildings and structures by the Ordinance, the plaques offer a way to recognize history within a framework oriented towards growth and development. Second, the fact that comparisons with other cities were evoked to justify the project is symptomatic of Hong Kong’s approach to policy in many respects and also of early entrepreneurial city strategies. As the city-territory developed rapidly in the post-1945 period, the government continually faced new challenges in the domains of housing, transportation, employment and health. Drawing on knowledge and experience from other places, both Britain and elsewhere, was an important government strategy. As the plaques suggest, however, such practices were not only employed in the domains of social policy, but also in the interest of bolstering Hong Kong’s image to attract tourists and investment. Third, the project proceeded with little public input, in spite of the appearance of efforts to solicit it. The failure of the government to engage the wider community may indicate a lack of interest in heritage among the general public; there were many more important matters to attend to. Furthermore, while the AAB invited comments on how to remember places that no longer exist, it was reluctant to accept advice on actually existing historical buildings. The factors motivating the implementation of this early project are familiar to readers of the politics of heritage conservation. Tourism, education and place-making are latched to the heritage bandwagon in many places. The problems raised are equally familiar; at stake is authorship over representations of memory and identity, multiple and contested readings of the meaning of history and place, and differing perspectives on the uses of heritage. Here, however, I 57 propose to use this early initiative as a point of departure for a discussion that explores the history of heritage in late colonial Hong Kong. 3.1 Presuppositions This chapter will deepen the analysis of the contemporary reassessment of heritage and resulting policy transformations by examining its historical context. As will be discussed in Chapter 4, the ongoing discussion began after 1997 is very much of the present, imbricated with a host of political and socio-cultural currents that are time and place-specific to post-handover Hong Kong. Interpretation of struggles over key sites, such as the Star Ferry and Queen’s Piers, the Central Market, and Government Hill, leads analysis to identify moments in the recent past and similar kinds of debates – environmental activism, the harbour preservation movement, district-level community activism – as antecedents. These are, of course, directly related strands of an urban social movement centred on democratic political reforms such as universal suffrage and an end to the collusion between government officials and property tycoons, along with broader concerns about the repercussions of the dissolution of political autonomy since the return to Chinese sovereignty (Chung, 2011). But much more can be said about the contemporary situation by deepening analysis of its historical origins. Heritage became a point of contention in part due to the shortcomings of the Ordinance. The historical context in which this policy was developed had a direct bearing on its content, and hence its omissions. Most contemporary assessments begin simply with the fact of the existence of the policy; by better understanding it, we may be better suited to envision alternatives. This chapter thus brings into view a longer historical trajectory that includes the creation of the institutional and administrative framework for heritage in the 1970s. Not unlike in North America and Europe around the same time, there were heated debates over the demolition of historical buildings in the years surrounding the 58 introduction of the Ordinance. The involvement of expatriates in heritage advocacy reinforced perceptions of elitism and skepticism that this issue held relevance to Hong Kongers. It must be understood that the very idea of protecting heritage held deeply colonial implications. The chapter will argue, however, that this largely unsuccessful movement is not unrelated to contemporary struggles in the ways it sought to disrupt government decision-making premised on generating revenue from property development. A case involving a centrally-located, publicly owned historic building, the Kowloon-Canton railway terminus, will be examined. This discussion will present several arguments that are crucial for understanding the present situation. First, Hong Kong’s heritage conservation policy was an attempt by the colonial government to accommodate spaces for the valorization of material culture within a growth-oriented framework. Thus the policy is reluctant to allow buildings to be conserved or preserved lest redevelopment potential, in particular the rights of private owners to profit from investment, be negatively impacted. As others have pointed out (Cheng & Lau, 2012), the status of “Monument” was less likely to be awarded to buildings in the urban areas of Hong Kong than archaeological sites and villages in the New Territories and outlying islands. This is a result of the specificity of the Hong Kong context, where serious post-war land shortages forced the demolition of many historical structures in the urban core before they were recognized to have cultural and historic value. The built heritage of the outlying areas also happened to represent principally local Chinese cultures in contrast with a small number of colonial structures of the urban core. The geography of remembrance also speaks to the valorization of ancient relics and the influence of archaeology in the development of the policy. This orientation was never revised and still today the language of the Ordinance emphasizes historicity over social or cultural value. 59 As a product of colonial governance, the heritage policy and the debates that followed its implementation reveal complex power dynamics that involved the imposition of Eurocentric modes of interpretation. It is argued here that the policy set-up was developed in a relational fashion, both with respect to perceived local “needs” as well as the emerging best practices in Britain and elsewhere. The policy language and instruments that were drawn from the UK to this very different context were altered not so much to respond to the specificities of the setting as to identify and represent elements of a local culture whose treatment as “heritage” would not undermine economic growth. Thus, perceived local needs were just that; efforts on the part of the government to identify, rescue and represent artefacts and places of significance for local residents. Ironically, these were of little meaning to the majority of Hong Kongers whose family roots lay elsewhere. Moreover, the government was unwilling or unable to meaningfully engage residents in these discussions. The case could be made, and was by various parties in the 1970s, that ancient Chinese heritage is of foremost importance, and that landscapes with colonial associations are of secondary interest and perhaps best forgotten. But re-reading key debates of the 1970s reveals that these assertions emerged from conversations that unfolded within colonial government institutions, between various upper middle class, professional factions, and in fact, involved a very limited Hong Kong public. The reasons for these exclusions are complex, but it will be argued here that since the socio-political realities of the 1970s did not permit meaningful participation by residents in the identification and elaboration of their own heritage, let alone most other government institutions, we cannot state in hindsight whether the colonial buildings should have been retained and reimagined, or that it was beneficial for the populace of the city to raze them. 60 3.2 An Archaeology of Heritage This chapter presents a history of heritage in Hong Kong. This is a curious task. Although heritage is concerned with the past, it is, as an object of study, quite different from history. Moreover, the methods used to study it are quite distinct from those used to study history. At a recent interdisciplinary gathering of critically-oriented heritage researchers, a plenary speaker quipped “and this is the moment when the historians get up and leave the room,” to the chuckles of the audience11. The “moment” was the suggestion that social constructionism is the appropriate lens through which to understand heritage. This, of course, would be untenable to many historians who are more concerned with reconstructing or interpreting the past through a realist lens. If anything, heritage studies and history may be described as faux amis (false friends), a French term denoting words that appear to share similarities but in fact are unrelated. If heritage does nothing but distort history, and if the study of heritage is preoccupied with explaining and understanding these distortions, it must be beneficial to understand how they are produced historically and transform over time. It is for this reason that studies of heritage should pay greater attention to the history of their object of study than has been the case recently (Harvey, 2001). For David C. Harvey (2006, p. 19), such a history is not chronological but rather “a history of power relations that have been formed and operate via the deployment of the heritage process.” The reading of power here is limited by the use of English language sources but nevertheless reveals the problems related to the production of a heritage discourse. For the present purposes Foucault’s methodological metaphor of “archaeology” is an apt approach. Archaeology, as a science concerned with reading history by uncovering and 11 Observed at the International Association for Critical Heritage Studies meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden, June, 2012. 61 monumentalizing relics from the past, bears little in common with Foucault’s “archaeology”, a historiography informed by a poststructuralist understanding of the workings of language, society and politics. The Archaeology of Knowledge (Foucault, 1972) is a post-hoc elaboration and refinement of the philosophy which guided his earlier study of medical history, The Birth of the Clinic (1973), and The Order of Things (1977). The philosophy underscores a historical method based on studying the development and constitution of discursive formations within socio-political constellations: “the archaeological description of discourses is deployed in the dimension of a general history; it seeks to discover that whole domain of institutions, economic processes, and social relations on which a discursive formation can be articulated” (Foucault, 1972, p. 164). The medical discourse that Foucault uses as a case study was elaborated to address non-discursive matters of the body and is reproduced in the workings of power relations that find expression in institutions. He writes that this discourse “as a practice concerned with a particular field of objects, finding itself in the hands of a number of statutorily designated individuals, and having certain functions to exercise in society, is articulated on practices that are external to it, and which are not themselves of a discursive order” (Foucault, 1972, p. 164). Similarly, heritage discourse is concerned with material stuff and articulates institutionalized forms of practice by which this stuff is treated. An awareness of this relationship between the discursive and non-discursive is particularly useful for thinking about heritage, which is too often considered either in discursive terms, via critical constructionism, or from a materialist, practice-oriented perspective that ignores discourse entirely. Canguilhem’s work has proven particularly influential for Foucault, and his approach to intellectual historiography may be useful for us here as well. For Canguilhem (quoted in Foucault, 1972, p. 4), “the history of a concept is not that of its progressive refinement, its continuously increasing rationality, its 62 abstract gradient, but that of its various fields of constitution and validity, that of its successive rules of use, that of the many theoretical contexts in which it developed and matured.” Following this, we cannot take for granted the ways “heritage” is framed in the language of policy documents and public discourse. Its inscription in the Ordinance is impermanent and does not determine the ways of thinking and feeling about this concept in different individual and collective spheres. In fact, the creation of the Ordinance marked a “rule of use” which limited the refinement and development of the idea of heritage. It is important to note the unique facets of the colonial setting in which the heritage policy was created. The literature on colonial urbanism has emphasized the various ways colonizers exercised and realized power through the production of city space but also the ways in which residents resisted or benefited from their relationships with those in positions of authority (Yeoh, 1996; Kusno, 2000). Much of this work is informed by poststructural theory; power is understood not as a unidirectional operation of domination, but rather a diffuse and dynamic process evident not only in politics and economics, but also in the mundane interactions and places that make up city spaces. Geographers in particular have shown the material manifestations of these relationships as reflected in buildings and landscapes (Jacobs, 1996; Yeoh, 2001). The built environment does not neatly reflect binaries of domination and resistance, but rather the complexity and ambiguity of hybrid subjectivities and everyday experiences shaped by colonial governance (Chu, 2012). Although Hong Kong shares aspects of a common colonial urbanism with other cities, it is also unique. The colonial city is most often understood as a historical formation that began with European control and ended with independence. Such a view does not suit Hong Kong, where colonization did not finish with independence but rather, arguably, inaugurated a new form of colonization by the PRC (Szeto, 2006). As Cartier (2002, p. 63 234) writes, “decolonization was a move to the future but not to independent territoriality. Rather it was a return to a historical sovereignty of its origins – in some sense, a back to the future experience.” And Cartier further points out that since Hong Kong did not exist as a coherent territory or city before the arrival of the British, it can hence be said to be almost entirely the product of colonization and the regional and global dynamics of trade networks and interactions with greater China and beyond. Finally, in part because of the long duration of British presence in the territory, the meaning and nature of colonialism shifted gradually throughout the twentieth century, to the point where its return to Chinese sovereignty had very little perceptible impact on the day to day workings of the territory and the lives of its residents.12 The literature on colonial governance in Hong Kong consists in part of historical studies of specific social and urban issues, such as housing (Smart, 2006), politics (Ngo, 1999), and religion (Smith, 2005), in the period up to 1960s. There was a flurry of writing considering the significance of Hong Kong’s colonial experience from the outlook of its end around the handover in 1997 (MacPherson, 1997; Abbas, 1997b; Mathews et al., 2007) but comparatively little focused on the intervening “late colonial” years. In the late 19th century and through the first decades of the 1900s, the most tangible Hong Kong manifestation of colonial power in urban space was the Residential Registry Ordinance of 1888, which codified racial segregation of residential neighbourhoods. Hong Kong was not segregated upon its establishment and this ordinance was the product of pressure from European communities coming into increasingly close contact with rapidly growing Chinese neighbourhoods (Chu, 2012). The policy mandated the reservation of lands on the higher elevations of Hong Kong Island, which benefited from 12 The case could be made that the greatest impacts of the handover were felt long before and long after 1997. The emigration of the late 80s and early 90s was provoked in part by fear. In the 2000s, growing integration with the Mainland is creating feelings of unease. 64 breezes and thus cooler temperatures, for European (single family) housing. The de facto Chinese city grew up on either side of the waterfront Central business district. The planning regulations that inscribed this division were premised on racist pathologies of hygiene and social order that spread through colonial networks in the late 19th century (Home, 1997). Furthermore, for several decades in the second half of the nineteenth century, Chinese residents were required to carry a pass and a lit lamp in the streets after 10pm (Bremner & Lung, 2003, p. 226). The lines that separated the British from the Chinese quarters of the city dissolved in practice in the 1920s and 30s but were not formally removed until the repeal of the Hill District Reservation Ordinance in 1946. Though colonial institutions continued to influence the material landscape, they arguably became less visible as the government focused on policies of social development and housing (Smart, 2006) and as the public service began to replace expatriate Europeans with Chinese Hong Kongers who had received English-language credentials at local universities (Chan, 1997). Thus, if it is possible to locate the exercise of power in the direct coercive regulation of space at the height of the 19th century and early 20th century, as modes of governance later shifted to more benevolent forms, the dynamics became more complex. As a comparison, in Indonesia the colonial government’s “cultural policy” emerged through efforts on the part of the Dutch to atone for past violence and wrongdoing. The cultural policy allowed for the celebration and recognition of local cultural forms within a “civilizing” framework. Architecture from this period, as shown by Kusno (2000), reflects a hybrid space of indigenized colonial subjects working with local forms but within an overall colonial framework. Though no such policy was adopted in Hong Kong, colonial policies, including those that found expression in the urban form, began to take on a flavour of responsiveness to social needs, while maintaining a mandate propelled by an interest in economic growth. It is precisely for this reason 65 – that colonial power became less visible in Hong Kong in the final decades of the colony – that attention should be paid to its manifestations in the final decades of the colony. The heritage Ordinance, studied through an archaeology of the discursive conditions that allowed it to exist and the government framework that executed it, is one such manifestation. 3.3 Historical Context of the 1960s and 1970s The institutional framework for heritage conservation in Hong Kong was created in the 1970s following the most tumultuous decades in the territory’s short history. Following the end of the Japanese occupation in 1945 the territory saw a prolonged period of population growth due to the arrival of refugees fleeing the civil war in mainland China. The resulting growing pains included labour strife and malcontent with the colonial government which erupted in violent clashes at several moments. Notably, protests over a rise in the price of a ticket for the Star Ferry in 1966 became an expression for broader contempt of the colonial government (Scott, 1989). The government towed the line, turning its focus to social infrastructure for the rising population, notably embarking on a massive public housing scheme in 1954. The emphasis was on creating the conditions for continued economic growth by ensuring social stability. In resettling 1,000,000 squatters by 1971, the government freed up land for private development while preempting any resistance that might have emerged through outright squatter clearance (Smart, 1989). It was incongruous for heritage to appear on the agenda at the tail end this time when the government was preoccupied with more practical matters. A number of factors made it so. A tangible result of the government’s pursuit of socio-political stability through housing provision was the emergence of New Town developments outside of the dense urban cores of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong’s New Towns are planned, high density, mixed-66 use communities constructed on agricultural land alongside older villages in the New Territories. The impetus for this form of development was a fear of the deleterious effects of overcrowding in the years following the liberation of Hong Kong from the Japanese occupation in 1945 and the realization that pursuing development in rural areas would be both more easily and quickly accomplished than improving living conditions solely in urban areas (Bristow, 1984, p. 71). The opening of many previously isolated and unpopulated areas to intensive construction and infrastructure development raised new questions about the future of Chinese villages, archaeological sites and other places of significance that long pre-dated the arrival of the British. The comparatively early recognition of the importance of protecting these sites from destruction is evinced in their concentration among the early monuments declared under the Ordinance (see Table 1). Table 1 Declared Monuments in Hong Kong: 1978-1983 Site Date Location Type of site 1. Rock Carving at Big Wave Bay 1978 Southern Hong Kong Island Archaeological 2. Rock Carving at Kau Sai Chau 1979 Sai Kung, New Territories Archaeological 3. Rock Carving at Tung Lung Island 1979 Sai Kung, New Territories Archaeological 4. Rock Inscription at Joss House Bay 1979 Sai Kung, New Territories Archaeological 5. Rock Carving at Skek Pik 1979 Lantau Island Archaeological 6. Rock Carving at Po Toi Island 1979 Islands District Archaeological 7. Tung Chung Fort 1979 Lantau Island Defense 8. Duddell Street Steps and Gas Lamps 1979 Hong Kong Island Colonial 9. Tung Lung Fort 1980 Sai Kung, New Territories Defense 10. Sam Tung Uk Village 1981 Tsuen Wan, New Territories Chinese village 11. Fan Lau Fort 1981 Island near Lantau Defense 12. Old District Office North 1981 Tai Po, New Territories Colonial 13. Sheung Yiu Village 1981 Sai Kung, New Territories Chinese village 14. Rock Carving at Cheung Chai 1982 Cheung Chau Island Archaeological 15. Tin Hau Temple 1982 Hong Kong Island Traditional Chinese 16. Rock Carving at Lung Ha Wan 1983 Sai Kung, New Territories Archaeological 17. Island House at Yuen Chau Tsai 1983 Tai Po, New Territories Traditional Chinese 67 Site Date Location Type of site 18. Site of Chinese Customs Station at Junk Island 1983 Sai Kung, New Territories Colonial 19. Man Lun Fung Ancestral Hall 1983 Yuen Long, New Territories Traditional Chinese 20. Remains of Ancient Kiln at Wun Yiu Village 1983 Tai Po, New Territories Traditional Chinese Archaeological explorations had begun as early as the mid-1920s and were later understood to offer an important corrective to the “barren rock” historiography, placing early Hong Kong settlements in a broader regional context (Meacham, 2008). The Archaeology Department at Hong Kong University and a semi-professional Archaeological Society were influential in this regard. In reference to early efforts to regulate archaeological digs with permits, Solomon Bard, then Chair of the Archaeological Society, stated that “such law is common in all countries of the world where ancient relics are protected by regulation” (SCMP, 1976). This indicates a desire on the part of the Archaeological Society to create a policy framework to allow the government to better regulate archaeological activity, ensuring protection of relics and ruins. The Society succeeded, but it also influenced the heritage policy more generally, in particular the language on historicity and antiquity it contains. The difference between an archaeological artifact and a heritage object is worth noting. They share overlapping meanings but are quite different; archaeologists place greater emphasis on age, finding value and interest in antiquity and historical reconstruction. Moreover, archaeology as a science involves the technical practice of excavation and hence is interested in objects and structures partially or fully buried. Artifacts unearthed by archaeologists may also be understood to hold heritage significance, but this is not necessarily the case. The fact that early conversations about heritage in Hong Kong were foregrounded by archaeological interests contributed to an emphasis on 68 historicity rather than social value. As the conversation developed, however, a Heritage Society emerged as a separate entity, in part thanks to the assistance of archaeologists. Another point worthy of mention is that the government showed a growing interest in culture in the 1960s and 70s. Hong Kong has long suffered from the reputation of being a “cultural desert”13, lacking institutions for arts and culture, and perhaps, as would argue Bourdieu (via Kong, 2007), lacking the cultural capital required to build or nurture such institutions in the first place. In the 1970s the government took note and embarked on a programme to invest in the development of flagship museums in a cultural precinct in eastern Tsim Sha Tsui. This was the responsibility of the Leisure and Cultural Services department, the same department responsible for heritage. The effort was not only about the city’s reputation, as seen through the eyes of visitors and tourists; it was also concerned with investing in the cultural life of the territory for the sake of the Hong Kong people. Cultural institutions were presented as gifts to the civic realm. They would offer enriching educational experiences that would benefit the city’s residents and boost its reputation as an international tourist destination. The museums would include global developments in science and technology, spaces for performances and touring art exhibits, as well as local cultural heritage. But the nature of city-territory, forged by capitalist exchange, did not easily lend itself to representation in museum displays. More generally, whether or not it is possible to create a museum collection, let alone a museum-going public, where neither pre-existed is debatable. The Museums Select Committee, operating under the Urban Services Department, set this as its task. It would later pursue the adaptive reuse of 13 According to Luk (1991, p. 660), Hong Kong acquired this reputation as early as the 1920s and 30s based on the perspectives of visiting northern Chinese intellectuals who criticized the city for its conservatism and colonial atmosphere. 69 heritage buildings as museums, but initially there was a preference for modern buildings with air conditioning and well-planned public access (Urban Services Department, 1979). There were also extramural factors at play. In 1972, the Hong Kong government signed the World Heritage Convention, a symbolic commitment to participating in an international dialogue on heritage. The Convention established the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes natural and cultural sites of “universal value”. The commitment is symbolic because it is non-binding and merely encourages signatories to meet standards relating to the sites on the list (Hazen, 2008), none of which are in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, signing the Convention did informally require the government to invest in the development of policies and capacities in the interest of safeguarding the few remaining heritage sites and structures in the territory. 3.4 The Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance The policy framework for heritage conservation in Hong Kong is provided by the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. Although it was promulgated in 1971 it did not come into effect until 1976 when a provisional Antiquities Advisory Board was appointed. Most contemporary accounts mention only the latter date; the five year delay was due to the difficulty of establishing the capacities required for the policy’s implementation, including research expertise and conservation guidelines. When discussions were undertaken to form a provisional AAB, the Public Works Department was forced to look outside the territory to find a suitable candidate to fill the position of Secretary because there were no local university programmes training experts in this area. In 1971 Eddie in Hong Kong wrote to Noel in Australia to inquire as to whether any of the graduates of the Oriental Studies programme at the Australian National University might be educated in Chinese history and have enough knowledge of archaeology “to be able to recognise a relic” ([Eddie], 1971). The response, written on stationary from a hotel in 70 Taipei, offered to circulate a job advertisement. By 1974 the Ordinance had still not taken effect and this was blamed in part of the lack of candidates for the position of secretary ([Antiquities Advisory Board], 1974). The Ordinance (Government of Hong Kong, 1976), serves several purposes: it creates an administrative framework, explains the language through which heritage is known and interpreted, and defines the scope of the government’s responsibilities (personal interview, October 4, 2010). The administrative set-up identifies the Secretary for Home Affairs as the Chief Authority on heritage. The Authority is also charged with appointing the AAB, composed of a Chair (the Director of Urban Services, acting for the Secretary for Home Affairs), the Secretary for the New Territories and five other experts in relevant fields of expertise. The role of the AAB is purely advisory; it provides advice on how best to manage and expand upon the territory’s roster of relics and antiquities. It does not have executive authority, nor does it have staff or funding (apart from that of the associated Antiquities and Monuments Office, AMO). When a potential addition to the list is identified, the AAB reviews research prepared by staff in the AMO and agrees on a recommendation to put forth to the Secretary of Home Affairs. The provisional Board appointed in 1976 included two official and five unofficial members. Though an independent body, it included members of the government service. The presence of public servants among the Board’s members led some to question its impartiality. An interviewee who was a founding member of the Hong Kong Heritage Society called the AAB an “internal, circular, rubber-stamping machine,” (personal interview, October 4, 2010). By this he meant that the decisions of the Board were influenced by the government and other stakeholders; they were not unbiased expert assessments reflecting research findings. The informant noted that this changed when the Board shifted to all unofficial members, and further with reforms in 1987. 71 The Ordinance allows the Authority, after considering advice from the AAB, to “declare any place, building, site or structure, which the Authority considers to be of public interest by reason of its historical or archaeological or palaeontological significance, a monument, historical building or archaeological or palaeontological site or structure” (Government of Hong Kong, 1976). The inclusion of archaeological and palaeontological value is indicative of the influence of archaeology on early heritage discourses. For the purpose of this analysis, we will note this conflation because it demonstrates the emphasis on historicity explained above. Architectural and social significance are not included in the basic premise of the Ordinance. In many respects the treatment of archaeological artifacts in the policy is more straightforward than that of buildings, the values of which are more susceptible to interpretation. One of the main limitations of the Ordinance is its inability to recognize that privately owned properties may hold heritage significance for wider publics. This may be understood in relation to the operation of the Hong Kong land market. There are several important ideas here which will be developed in relation to questions about heritage throughout the thesis. First and foremost, the scarcity of land combined with government positive non-intervention results in redevelopment being highly profitable. The state control over the release of new lands for development, a fundraising mechanism developed early on in by the colonial administration, maintains high demand and ever-increasing value (Endacott, 1964). Where there is a difference between the permitted and actual intensity of land use, as specified by the permitted plot ratio (gross floor area to building height), most property owners would plan to increase the land rent either through sale or redevelopment where permitted. When a historically significant building or site is located on the property in question, the government may propose that the status of “monument” may be declared. However, the Ordinance allows for the property owner to resist 72 this designation as it infringes on the right to redevelop the property. Indeed, in 1979 the Annual Report of the AAB (p. 5) notes that “the experience of the board has generally been that its advice on the preservation of monuments is more likely to be accepted where there is no pressing alternative use for the site.” The same year eleven buildings were considered for monument status but removed from the list due to resistance from property owners. The difficulty of limited public interest in private heritage properties is not unique to Hong Kong, but policies elsewhere do not provide so much freedom to owners. They may instead offer incentives to encourage conservation and maintenance (Listokin et al., 1998), a direction that would come later in Hong Kong. As mentioned, “monuments” receive statutory protection by the government; they may not be demolished and may only legally be altered with government permission. There are other categories of recognition for structures that are not afforded this status. Buildings or structures of “lesser importance” may be awarded one of three historic grades after a review by the AAB. The graded approach, modeled after the English Heritage grading system, was not included in the original ordinance. It was considered only in 1979, in part after research on other jurisdictions inspired by early challenges to the Hong Kong policy. Unlike the British system, not all graded buildings in Hong Kong receive statutory protection. Modification and demolition are possible where such interventions are deemed appropriate. Evaluation criteria are broader than for monuments and include historical interest, architectural value, authenticity, social value, and rarity. Grade I buildings are said to have “outstanding”, Grade II “special”, and Grade III “some” merit (Yu, 2008a) . It is unsurprising that it is difficult to make the case for retaining graded buildings given the language through which their value is considered. Although the 73 grading system offers no statutory protection, the AAB may propose that monument status may be awarded to a graded historical building facing demolition. The adoption of the Ordinance coincided with the redevelopment of several prominent buildings in Central Hong Kong and Kowloon. These projects tested the intent of the policy and several important questions emerged. In particular, could structures that date not from the 19th century, but rather the early 20th century be awarded the status of “monument”? Furthermore, does the policy have the capacity to recognize colonial buildings in areas of the city with high land value? Would the recommendations of the AAB be considered in decisions by the Antiquities Authority? These questions and others emerged when it became clear that equations of land economics and politics heavily influenced the government’s approach to the heritage question. Onlookers in expatriate professional spheres perceived this direction as highly problematic and sought to intervene in an organized manner with the formation of the Hong Kong Heritage Society (HKHS). 3.5 The Hong Kong Heritage Society The Hong Kong Heritage Society (HKHS) was founded in 1977 from a loosely organized network of professionals fighting to prevent the demolition of the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) Terminus. As interest and participation grew, the emphasis shifted and broadened to a more general focus on heritage. HKHS was formed upon the advice of Lord Duncan-Sandys, the former British Secretary of State and head of Europa Nostra, a European heritage conservation body. The group’s first official meeting, organized when the KCR campaign was already in progress, was held at St. John’s Cathedral on Garden Road, just up the hill from the Supreme Court. As required of all politically-oriented associations under the Societies Ordinance, the HKHS was officially registered with the Police Department, its constitution and regulations 74 governing membership and meetings placed on the official record. The group elaborated a long-term mandate of preserving “what is best” in Hong Kong’s human environment, and a more detailed aim “to represent, express and encourage interest and involvement in Hong Kong’s heritage” (Hong Kong Heritage Society, 1977). The definition of heritage therein was broad, including “buildings and artifacts of historic, aesthetic, cultural or public interest and traditional activities of cultural and social significance.” From its inception, the HKHS had a political orientation. It formed in part due to the inability of the AAB, under constraints imposed by the government, to carry out its mandate. It thus operated as a concern group, opposing the dominant ideologies espoused by the state and questioning its decision-making processes. HKHS members were mainly professional expatriates from the English-speaking world, working in architecture and planning or academia. Mailing addresses for the HKHS are care-of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, indicating a close relationship with this group (Hong Kong Heritage Society, n.d.). The membership also included the stay-at-home spouses of working expats and several students. Activities revolved around efforts to protect a number of “threatened” Western-style buildings. In this sense, in spite of its broad mandate, the activities of the group can be seen as responding to local plans and circumstances rather than proactively lobbying government. Due to the nature of its work, the organization mainly responded to issues as they arose and didn’t manage to devise a long term plan or agenda. The HKHS recognized the need to attract the support of Hong Kong Chinese people in order to achieve a greater level of legitimacy. Although it operated primarily in English, efforts were made to translate written materials into Chinese. Hong Kong Heritage Society was translated as Heung gong man mat hok wui (direct translation as Hong Kong cultural artifact scholarly society). Outreach and recruitment became key items on the agenda and the net was 75 cast wide (personal interview, October 4, 2010). The main targets were university students because it was thought that, due to their assumed cultural capital, they would share an affinity with older buildings or, that a youthful zeal of engagement would spark a greater awareness among the local public. Students recruited from The University of Hong Kong (HKU) took up volunteer responsibilities including typing and translation. The HKHS also sought support among university students by sending petitions to student associations at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and HKU for circulation and endorsement. Other strategies for broadening engagement included publishing articles in the Chinese press, engaging the grassroots local media, liaising with Chinese academics, and forming partnerships with community associations, including the Tsim Sha Shui Kaifong Association 14. Although recruitment initiatives did not obtain beyond nominal levels of success, the matter of support from the Chinese community was not trivial. With a core membership of expats, the HKHS was easily painted as an elite organization interested primarily in defending the waning materials of the British Empire. As Cuthbert (1984) suggested in one of the earliest scholarly examinations of heritage conservation in Hong Kong, the movement was easily seen as bourgeois and colonial in orientation. In a context where the government response to the needs of its constituents necessarily revolved around social reproduction (employment, housing, education, health), retaining elements of the built environment for their cultural significance was not a priority. Thus finding support among local communities was an effort to transcend the inevitable charge of elitism that the HKHS confronted from its creation. There is no easy 14 Kaifong associations are community-based mutual aid organizations. They were established by the government in the 1950s to mediate between the state and residents in areas of public interest. As the standard of living increased in the following decades, and as the government took on a more direct service-provision role, the importance of these organizations declined, along with their funding (Lau, 1981). 76 explanation for the failure in this regard. It is perhaps possible to venture that the Society’s efforts were met with disinterest. But it may be a stretch to state that the predominant view was that colonial buildings, perhaps with a few exceptions, are best destroyed. The government supported the latter view with little evidence to substantiate it. Their perspective was that the activities of the HKHS were an exercise in colonial nostalgia and that the true heritage of local Hong Kong-Chinese residents lay in the New Territories, particularly its historic villages and natural features. In this view, the colonial buildings meant little to Chinese residents of the territory, or worse, were damaging reminders of subjugation and figurative and literal violence. The KCR Railway Station, the Hong Kong Club building, the Central Post Office and other colonial buildings that the organization fought to save obviously had very different histories, uses and meanings. Conveniently, however, they shared in common the fate of lying on centrally located, potentially profitable land. The following account of a confrontation between the HKHS and the government explores this incongruence. The Society’s campaigns expressed a form of colonial desire that is met with capitalist aspirations for land development, masquerading as a form of benevolent cooperation with local Hong Kong Chinese. This discussion will emphasize the political dynamics of heritage contestation in the years following the introduction of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance and the creation of the AAB. This debate and others of the same period may serve as a comparative frame for heritage contestation in the post-handover period. In the 1970s there was already fierce debate about whether the retention of colonial buildings served to replicate colonial domination. This still resonates in the post-1997 period, as Hong Kongers seek to retain colonial buildings and recast their meanings. 77 3.6 The Kowloon-Canton Railway Terminus Construction of the KCR Terminus (see Figure 1) began in 1910 and the station opened its doors in March, 1916. The architect for the project, A.B. Hubback, was invited to Hong Kong from the Federated Malay States. The terminus was located at the tip of the Kowloon Peninsula, overlooking Victoria Harbour, with the growing skyline of Hong Kong Island and Victoria Peak in the distance. Few landmark buildings anywhere in the world had such a Figure 1: KCR Rail Terminus c. 1950 (photo from Gwulo Hong Kong) 78 privileged vantage of city life, at once teeming in the harbour and still in the distant shimmering skyline. Architecturally the building was neo-Grecian, featuring tapered columns, carved cornices and “scalloped capitals”. Its pedigree, however, was not reducible to European origins. Members of the Heritage Society pointed out that this was “a style which mainland China still borrows upon to this day, and is no more foreign in origin than nearly any other building in Hong Kong” (SCMP, 1977d). The building’s façade was mainly composed of red brick and granite. Its layout was U-shaped, adaptive reuse thus offering the possibility of greatly increasing the floor area. Grand it was, designed as a gateway to China and, in fact, the end of a line connecting to the Trans-Siberian route leading all the way to Europe. For years, it served this purpose for long-distance travelers. For Hong Kongers, however, its presence was more modest. It was the starting point for short trips to the New Territories or visits across the border in neighbouring mainland provinces. One interviewee recalled little more about the station than impressions gained while passing through it on school outings (personal interview, July 31, 2010). This is likely a common memory; that of a building slightly outside of the everyday – a place visited only on rare and special occasions when one’s route required it. The relocation of the train terminus to nearby Hung Hom was set in motion in 1967, having been recommended almost two decades earlier in Sir Patrick Abercrombie’s planning study (1948). Over the coming years plans for the building and the land upon which it stood solidified. The move would free up land for public uses and commercial development in centrally located Tsim Sha Tsui district. The new red line of the MTR linking Kowloon to Hong Kong Island would include a stop nearby and the land uses in this area had become focused on tourism and retail; the train station was no longer the best use of land in this setting. Instead, the Development Permission Area Plan (DPAP) specified that a swath of land from the tip of the 79 peninsula leading east, along with a portion reclaimed from the harbour, be used for cultural facilities. Thus, the government announced that the terminus building would be replaced with a new Cultural Centre. Although construction would not begin until much later, the rail terminus was deemed a liability and slated for demolition, with the exception of its clock tower. According to D. W. McDonald (McDonald, 1976), director of Public Works, this was a concession granted due to public pressure. It was also convenient; the tower had a small footprint and could be reserved without compromising the overall plan.15 Efforts to save the KCR building had begun quietly in 1970 when the Kowloon Residents’ Association wrote to the colonial secretary to object to the building’s demolition. The Tsim Sha Tsui Kaifong Welfare Association and Hong Kong Institute of Architects wrote similar letters in the mid-1970s but a public campaign only emerged with the formation of the Heritage Society in 1977 (SCMP, 1977c). The earlier involvement of neighbourhood-based groups is noteworthy because the cause later became weighted with colonial associations. For anyone to challenge the government’s plan was a tall order. They would need to prove not only that the building was an example of heritage worth preserving, which the Ordinance did not permit, but also present alternative plans for the Cultural Centre. To do so, the HKHS argued that it was feasible and desirable to locate the cultural facility inside the renovated KCR building. While the government had early on rejected this possibility due to the condition of the building, the campaigners provided evidence to the contrary. In addition to arguing that it was economically and practically possible to retain the building, the HKHS continually refuted the government’s claims that the plans for the site had progressed too far to be altered. 15 This small gesture was almost shelved due to pressure from government architects concerned about the “visual integrity” of the plans for the new building (SCMP, 1977a). 80 The capacity to consider conserving the KCR building under the heritage law was limited. The Ordinance had only just taken effect and the provisional AAB was in its early days of operation. More to the point, the content of the policy itself did not allow it. Since it dated from 1910 it was not old enough to be considered for monument status and the grading system was not yet in place. The station’s advocates made attempts to explain the cultural and historical significance of the structure, but in the absence of the inclusion of such language in the official discourse, they had little success. Claims such as “It is a symbol of Hong Kong,” “It represents Hong Kong,” and “It has been with us for so many years” went unrecognized (SCMP, 1977c). The HKHS was charged with impeding the progress of the Cultural Centre and of defending a colonial landmark that was of little importance to Hong Kong people. It responded by attempting to show that local people were in favour of retaining the structure. The HKHS gathered 15,000 signatures on a petition, 90% of which were by Hong Kong Chinese residents ([Indignant Ratepayer], 1978). A news report of this activity included a comment from one of the signators, Mrs. Wong, a 72 year old woman: “I come here every day to join other old friends who also come here to spend their leisure” (SCMP, 1977d). The SCMP newspaper sought to further demonstrate the varied opinions of Hong Kongers by conducting an small, informal street survey (SCMP, 1977b). Two of four people approached were in favour of demolishing the station because they felt it was incongruous with the modernizing landscape. The other two thought it should be kept, both for practical and aesthetic reasons. A bus inspector noted: “The typhoon signals and the clock offer a valuable service to the thousands who pass by the area every day.” A man who works in the insurance industry thought the building was worth keeping because there are so few like it in Hong Kong. However powerful such anecdotes, the effort as a whole was unable to inspire action among a large enough number of Chinese Hong 81 Kong residents to make the case that the building was important for local people. A member of the Heritage Society argued that the reluctance of the wider public to rally was due to defeatism in the face of government. “We have from the very outset met with the comment: ‘Of course we want to keep the building. But what is the good of protesting? The jing fu (government) has made up its mind’” (The Star, 1977). Here, the HKHS positions itself as a populist group, sympathizing with the experience of exclusion from government decision-making with indigenous colonial subjects. The Cultural Centre was a project of an elected Urban Council, which maintained an aura of accountability to the Hong Kong people. As a public body, its decisions were meant to be held in check and balance by an electoral college of 350,000 (not the entire population). Cuthbert (1984) points out that only 37,000 people registered to vote in the elections in the late 1970s, and only 7308 actually voted. Thus the plans for the Cultural Centre were guided by elected officials representing only a fraction of the population of the territory. When assessing the impact of the project on the public realm, this political context matters. Indeed, one of the few dissenting councilors stated: “the proposed new Cultural Centre will be as much a colonial building as anything of an earlier vintage” (Hong Kong Standard, 1977). Similarly, a letter published in the SCMP suggested that refurbishing the railway station would perhaps have been a more generous gift to the public than the construction of a modern building and that perhaps the idea of a cultural facility for the people of Hong Kong was not as altruistic as it was presented to be: If some of us propose to preserve the KCR building, we do it with the single wish to enrich the cultural life of the people of Hong Kong, not only for now, but also for the future, not only for the consumers of concerts and costumed plays, but also for those who stand at the door of the hall of culture but do not, for whatever reason, enter (Watt, 1977). 82 Although the Cultural Centre was part of the government’s investment in the development of the cultural life of the territory, its programming would not be open to the general public free of charge. One of the reasons the KCR plans were so controversial is that they were developed in the absence of public input. They were gazetted in short form in the local print media, but not in sufficient detail for the public to envision the impact on the landscape or to engage them in the planning process. In recognition of this, David Russell, the President of the HKHS, called for the creation of a committee which would render development plans more transparent for members of the public. Russell went so far as to advocate a system of controls to ensure that major planning decision are not “made for reasons of politics and profits” (SCMP, 1977e). His vision of public engagement looks much like present practices in the territory: public exhibitions, films, drawings, neighbourhood advice centres, and community worker outreach. In spite of the lack of public engagement in the planning process, the Urban Council insisted that the public was overwhelmingly in support of the plans. Differences of opinion among members of the AAB and the Urban Council are documented in exchanges in the South China Morning Post. A spokesperson for the Urban Council suggested that the AAB only studies buildings on the basis of historical and archaeological interest, failing to take aesthetic and financial costs into consideration (SCMP, 1977a). A response from an AAB member took issue with this characterization of the limited scope of the Board’s deliberations. The debate continued in this manner, mainly limited to factions within the colonial administration and the HKHS. In the final instance, the plans proceeded with the concession that the clock tower of the KCR building would be conserved and integrated into the cultural precinct plans for the waterfront. Abbas (1997b, p. 66-67) references 83 the clock tower as one example of heritage as a type of celebration of “history to bring about the disappearance of history.” In this reading, the function of the tower is not unlike that of the commemorative plaques, “a ‘quotation’ from Hong Kong’s architectural history… an image of history meant for visual consumption… a sign of communal history,” that allows the writing of the Hong Kong story to continue. 3.7 Colonial Heritage through a Relational Lens Arguments against the demolition of the KCR terminus, and to a lesser extent other buildings including the Hong Kong Club, had a relational character, featuring references to and comparisons with other places. At times these were explicit critiques of Hong Kong. A commentator in the Hong Kong Standard wrote: “there is little tradition of aesthetic or architectural appreciation in Hong Kong, whereas in more enlightened countries school children are often taken to visit historic buildings as part of their education.” He went on to state that “any culture which wantonly destroys all evidence of its own past is a sadly impoverished one” (Parkes, 1977). The same text suggests readers look to Europe for examples of new and old coexisting. This Eurocentric and perhaps racist commentary was likely intended as a critique of colonial policy, but the result was the suggestion that Hong Kong – a Chinese city – is inferior for not protecting its heritage. Beyond comparisons, the actual work involved in heritage advocacy took on a relational quality. Facing limited success in their efforts, members of the Heritage Society attempted to tap into support internationally. In November, 1977 a seventeen-page petition was submitted to the Queen of England. No response was received. In another case, a Heritage Society member named Agnes asked her cousin, Henry, of Perthshire, Scotland, if he was aware of an organization in the UK, or a high level politician, such as M. Thatcher, that might take an interest 84 in the matter. Black’s response was that politicians act with voting strategy in mind, and that the National Trust keeps to national affairs. He indicated, however, that he may be able to access Thatcher through a mutual friend, but that she is “overwhelmed with work and engagements” ([Black, 1977]). International support was received from the Secretary to the Commonwealth Association of Architects, T.N. Watson, who wrote to the Hong Kong Standard (Watson, 1977). He suggested that the building could be adapted similarly to an old railway station in Ottawa. In July, 1978, Dale Keller, Chairman of Pacific Heritage, visited Hong Kong and criticized the government for failing to take public opinion into account in their treatment of heritage conservation and for not providing adequate open spaces for community use (SCMP, 1978). Keller appeared on the RTV programme “Topics” with Peter Hodge, Vice-Chair of the HKHS. He indicated that he believed there had been a deliberate attempt to mislead the public in the government’s report on the KCR. These efforts are an attempt to “jump scale” (Smith, 1992) in order to achieve aims that cannot be realized in a local struggle. By seeking support in Britain and Europe, Society members sought to secure legitimacy for a perspective that was not given serious consideration in Hong Kong. 3.8 Conclusion On a muggy late summer night I sat with Kai on the patio on the rooftop of the podium of the IFC shopping mall complex in Central. Remarkably, this space is open to the public every day, late into the evening. Small sections are roped off for restaurant diners, but it is mostly open access, free of charge, no strings attached. The one catch is that it is not advertised and only accessible via a poorly marked elevator from the upscale mall below. The space is criticized for being privately operated and thus heavily regulated (discussion of similar cases will follow later in the dissertation). It is a small concession to calls for public spaces in private developments and 85 quite a pleasant place from which to survey the harbour and night skyline. It is also open to everyone, not only shoppers, and thus it is one of the many gathering places for foreign domestic workers who congregate in public places on their days off work (Constable, 1997). On this night it was quiet, save for a few groups of young people chatting, sharing snacks and hoping for an ocean breeze. I asked Kai to tell me his favourite Hong Kong building. As a young architect, I thought he might have an interesting answer – perhaps a building I didn’t know of. I knew also that he had worked on a conservation management plan for a developer and that this had introduced him to new ways of thinking about the Hong Kong landscape. He paused and then answered, “I kind of like the Cultural Centre, actually… It’s quite radical. To have this really enclosed block as the Cultural Centre – it sort of reflects how Hong Kong’s culture is. And it has a nice form; people recognize it” (personal interview, October 2, 2010). This was not the answer I had anticipated. But in the distance, across the harbour where the KCR Railway Station once sat, a sand-coloured geometrical form, brightly lit, provided a striking contrast with its neighbours. I understood his reasoning. Kai was born long after the demolition of the KCR terminus. Would he feel differently if he had been around for the struggle? Efforts were made on behalf of the Hong Kong people to protect a building that was thought, by a small number of expatriates, to symbolize the city. This was but a rumour for young Hong Kongers, like Kai, for whom the view of the past is very much from the present. 86 Chapter 4: Tradition and Transition: Heritage, Culture and Politics in Hong Kong after 1997 4.1 Climbing the Lion Rock On a warm Tuesday in early April, 2010 I arranged to join a hiking excursion at Lion Rock with my friend Betsy and a group of about 15 others. She had been invited by a friend; the others were new faces. It was the end of the Easter weekend and government employees (and some private sector workers) were enjoying a final day of holiday in summer-like weather before returning to work. I took the MTR to the Wong Tai Sin station, a place I had not visited before, although I knew of its namesake temple. We lacked a proper rendez-vous point, which in Hong Kong is usually an MTR exit number or one of the businesses that populate the underground concourse of every station, so I waited near the exit with signs pointing to our destination. After milling around for a few minutes, feeling slightly out of place in my hiking shorts and running tee-shirt, I eventually I spotted Betsy and our companions. We set off together to the trail head. As we walked along the deserted and dusty sidewalk of a high-volume, high-speed thoroughfare, I thought that this concrete and asphalt landscape could not possibly be near a mountain. I was proven wrong before too long, and we rounded a corner, turning away from the city, towards the shade of steep, forested hills looming in the distance. We chattered along the way, partly as a form of distraction from the growing heat. It was a diverse bunch – a journalist, a high school instructor (formerly a Cathay Pacific flight attendant), a jewellery store employee, three accountants, a health department employee and a few others – and I never did piece together how they all know each other. My friend introduced me as a graduate student studying Hong Kong heritage and planning. When I added that I am 87 based in Canada, curiosity was piqued. What drew me to Hong Kong? The hiking companions seemed genuinely surprise that someone would come from overseas to pursue such a study. As the conversation continued, it turned more directly to questions I was researching. A connection was made to Wing Lee Street, just west of Central on the edge of Sheung Wan, a site that had received a great deal of media attention in the past several months (e.g. Ng, 2010). The story of the street is indicative of the new purchase of heritage in the city. The area had been earmarked for urban renewal but the plans were strongly criticized in light of a new recognition of the unique historic character of the area, in part discovered and acclaimed due to the use of the street as a set in an award-winning film, Echoes of the Rainbow. In the film, Wing Lee Street stands in for the working class district of Sham Shui Po in the 1960s, its quiet terrace and dilapidated tenements easily evoking a landscape from this earlier time. Although the film received mixed reviews among the people I spoke with, it was widely celebrated for tapping into nostalgia for the recent past and was a commercial success. What was eye-opening on this day was that everyone seemed to been engaged and interested in the debate over Wing Lee Street; a few in the group had even visited the street a day earlier to see it and photograph it for themselves. As the conversation deepened, my new acquaintances presented their views about the URA’s decision to alter its plans for the street and the role of the government in this turn of affairs. Sam, in particular, was certain the government’s new plan to conserve the street was a result of the popularity of Echoes of the Rainbow. The conversation continued, slowing as we ascended the steep slope. The fact that a group of young people in their mid- to late-twenties, working in professions completely unrelated to the urban environment, were well-versed in a current land use controversy related to heritage conservation was striking. It is risky to generalize from a 88 unique case such as this, but it is not a stretch to propose that the discussion signaled the presence of a public discourse about heritage that does not exist in many places, at least not among people this age, and that it did not exist in Hong Kong until recently. This was confirmed in an interview with a heritage expert who is versed in the cultures of heritage worldwide, who believes that the level of interest in heritage in Hong Kong is unprecedented globally (personal interview, 29 April, 2010). Cultural fascinations with the past, as described in Chapter 2, are often aestheticized visions, and find expression in the consumption – visual or otherwise – of heritage objects and places (Lowenthal, 1985). A cultural fascination for heritage has developed in Hong Kong, but it goes far beyond the aesthetic. Hong Kong people are curious about heritage, asking questions about the city’s history, drawing links between heritage places, politics, property development and life in Hong Kong. At various places and moments, they have demanded a different approach: in situ preservation or conservation rather than relocation or rebuilding, the protection of traditional businesses and traditional low-cost dwellings, the identification of social networks embedded in older buildings and landscapes. The media have played an important role in this transformation by reporting extensively on instances of contestation that have arisen, such as that at Wing Lee Street, Lee Tung (Wedding Card) Street (Lai, 2007), the Blue House Cluster (Ng, 2012), the Graham Street/Peel Street markets (SCMP, 2008), and the Central Market (Ng, 2009a), among others. However, the glut of media reports is also a reflection of the emergence of an important area of political debate. Government agencies and politicians have given heritage a more prominent place on their agendas than in the past. This political turn is in part a response to pressure from civil society and public opinion. It is clear that Hong Kong has undergone an important transformation that has lent heritage a currency in the public, media, political and social discourse that, as seen in the previous chapter, 89 was mainly a colonial enterprise until very recently. Scholarly commentary has readily explained this transformation as a growing awareness of identity among Hong Kong people, that has found expression in a desire to hold on to the past (Kenworthy-Teather and Chow, 2003; Chu, 2007; Lu, 2009; Chung, 2011). An extended commentary may propose that the state has responded positively to the desires of Hong Kong people as a matter of care, responsibility or duty. This narrative, while not incorrect, does not follow a number of important threads that lay just beneath the surface. The intent here is to pick up and follow some of these threads with a view to placing the thesis in the contemporary urban Hong Kong context with its enmeshed cultural, political and economic characteristics. The present chapter situates the discursive transformation of heritage in Hong Kong within a framework that will allow for the geographical analysis that comes in later chapters. The central question is deceptively simple. Why did heritage become important at this particular time and in this particular place, Hong Kong? This contextualization requires a recent-historical view, taking into account the handover in 1997, and shifting contours of the post-1997 political and cultural landscapes, and especially the points of friction of politics and culture. It will be apparent that although the government has made strides that some view as a positive and uncharacteristic step away from its characteristic unilateral corporatism (Loh & Lai, 2007), it did so not for the reasons that appear to have the most explanatory power. The government did not merely respond to collective calls to do a better job of conserving heritage by presenting critics with some recipe of the reforms they had been seeking. Rather, it proposed a patchwork of responses to an issue with a strategic orientation that it had been working on for more than a decade. Moreover, for civil society groups, heritage is one tip of a time-and-place specific iceberg of claims for change. It is a domain connected to many other ideas, such as planning, 90 democracy, local culture and history, public space, tradition and memory. It is also a topic around which it is not easy to develop a clear consensus of defined purpose and meaning. Therefore, when the government made heritage a focus, it became difficult for civil society to respond and participate cohesively and meaningfully. It was only a small part of a much broader vision for change in the city. 4.2 Layout of the Chapter The first part of the chapter will ask how the return to Chinese sovereignty, in addition to causing upheavals in the political landscape, inspired interest in cultural heritage among members of the public and civil society. It especially gave rise to a politics of built heritage that did not exist previously. The next section will examine footwork conducted by the government in the area of heritage policy in the 1990s. It was clear to key actors that the approach was inadequate, not least because the bitter controversies of the 1970s were still in view. The question was: How should heritage be used? More importantly for the government, how could its uses be harnessed for purposes that are not antithetical to Hong Kong’s land (re)development regime? (Tang, 2008) Two conferences in the late 1990s and the Culture and Heritage Commission review conducted between 2000 and 2003 are emphasized as key moments in which state and non-state policy actors began to think about heritage not only as a public resource, but also a landscape attribute of the “global city”. Following a number of other accounts, the Star Ferry and Queen’s Pier “saga” is highlighted as a turning point in which heritage is the most accessible of a number of concerns expressed by civil society (Ng et al., 2010; Ku, 2012). Here, the narrative stresses that the government responded as it did because the protests created an opportunity to unveil a new direction for heritage policy (although not an entirely new policy), in which heritage is paired with the pro-growth intent of the creative 91 economy. The following chapter will apply a relational lens (McCann & Ward, 2011; Jacobs, 2012) to this process of re-making, or rather reassessing, the extant heritage policy. The present task, however, is to understand the factors that contributed to the extraordinary politicization of heritage in Hong Kong since 1997. 4.3 The Meaning of 1997 Any discussion of contemporary Hong Kong must reckon with the meaning of the handover, the transferral from British Crown Colony to Chinese sovereignty that occurred on July 1st, 1997. And in turn, the meaning of 1997 must be understood in the broader context of Hong Kong society and politics of the last several decades. The event is frequently evoked as “historically unprecedented” (Cartier, 2010, p. 26), for the withdrawal of colonial rule was not followed by independence, but rather the return to a sovereign power from which Hong Kong had grown estranged after a long period of separation under opposing political-economic regimes. Furthermore, the agency of Hong Kong as a political entity was not on the table in this process of decolonization and recolonization; the territory, especially its citizenry, was excluded from a process of negotiation that played out mainly between Beijing and London (Tsang, 2007). Scholarship within and informed by cultural studies has attempted to understand what the handover has meant for the Hong Kong people (Erni, 2001; Fung, 2001; Mathews, 1997; Ku & Pun, 2004). The point here will not be to rehearse the work that has already been done, or to reach a firm conclusion about how 1997 impacted the outlook on heritage; rather it is to underscore some questions related to the handover – as transition – that have a bearing on the way heritage is discussed. The comment of Anson Chan, former HKSAR chief secretary for administration, on this process is frequently evoked: the transition beyond colonial rule is “much more complex, subtle and profound” because it “is about identity and not sovereignty” (quoted in 92 Yeoh, 2001, p. 458). It cannot be said, however, that this transition marks a return to the Chinese identity that waned under decades of colonial rule. Rather, it may be understood as a turn towards a Hong Kong-Chinese identity that only became possible to articulate under the conditions of the SAR. Behind-the-scenes negotiations in the early 1980s culminated with the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984. This document set the date of the transferral of sovereignty in 1997, the year the 99-year lease of the New Territories to Britain expired, and began the inevitable anxious countdown to an unknown future. Although the agreement set out a continuation of the status quo for fifty years, with Hong Kong as a “Special Administrative Region” under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems,” questions about the reality of such an arrangement simmered. The Hong Kong territory would be self-governing, excepting the areas of foreign affairs and defence, which would be assumed by the PRC. The Basic Law, Hong Kong’s constitutional document, laid bare the protection of freedom of speech and various other liberties associated with Hong Kong’s status as a semi-democratic, industrialized, capitalist territory. From the outlook of 1984, 1997 was a long way off and there was much to be done in the meantime. Hong Kong was in the throes of the 1980s expansion of the Asian tiger economies. For residents who had come to Hong Kong because it was a capitalist refuge, it continued to serve its purpose as a temporary way station where property, employment and business were lucrative, at least for the time being. In 1989, simmering questions about the future were stoked to a boil when the PRC’s Communist Government violently suppressed the student movement at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. An uncharacteristic outpouring of horror and solidarity in Hong Kong brought over one million people to the streets in protest, the initiation of what has become an annual rallying cry 93 for democratic freedoms on June 4 (and followed by marches marking the handover on July 1 of every year). Tiananmen Square also galvanized feelings of anxiety and was a contributing factor in the decision to emigrate for many families and individuals (Li, 2005). Hundreds of thousands of people left Hong Kong, destined for countries with a high quality of life, educational opportunities and liberal immigration policies, especially Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and to a lesser extent, the United States (Skeldon, 1994). The departures peaked in 1992 but it became clear before 1997 that in many cases new homes were not permanent and that a second passport was more an “insurance policy” than a ticket to a new life (Ley & Kobayashi, 2005, p. 114). Overseas homes, in addition to providing a different quality of life, allowed children to gain fluency in English and a credential from an esteemed university, markers of cultural capital that translated into earning potential back in Hong Kong (Waters, 2006). One of the reasons that overseas migration trajectories were sojourns rather than permanent settlement was that the economic conditions in Hong Kong remained much more conducive to income growth than overseas economies (Ley & Kobayashi, 2005). While the exact number of Hong Kongers with overseas passports is unknown, the number of Canadian passport holders living in Hong Kong alone is estimated to be at least 300,000, with 7.8% of households counting a Canadian citizen over the age of 18 (Zhang & Degolyer, 2011). Though Hong Kong has always been the port of emigration from Greater China (Siu & Ku, 2009), the migration phenomenon of the 1990s was globally significant in its scale and has had long-term effects on the city’s culture and politics that are only now coming into full view and remain understudied. A tentative assessment of the ways that return and circular migration has affected the outlook on heritage in Hong Kong, as home, is presented in Chapter 6. 94 The Asian Financial Crisis rippled through markets in East and South-East Asia the same year as the handover, impacting housing prices and consumer confidence. The Hong Kong government responded with various measures intended to stimulate economic activity, especially cross-border trade with China’s Special Economic Zones. The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) was designed to stimulate trade in the Pearl River Delta Region and included a scheme for short-term tourist visas for travel to Hong Kong. Through the Individual Visit Scheme, residents of wealthier cities in Guangdong and neighbouring provinces, as well as Shanghai and Beijing, could visit for tourist purposes. Increasing interaction with the Mainland was and continues to be unsettling for many Hong Kongers. Early discriminatory superiority, founded in colonial morals and Western tastes (Mathews et al., 2007), has given way to concern about the economic impacts of mainland investment in Hong Kong property (not least as a disturbing real estate bubble has been forming) and the siphoning of resources across the border. Ongoing and rising cross-border tensions problematize the prospect of social and political integration and contribute to localization of identity and interests in the Hong Kong territory. The link between the effects of the handover – the outcome of which may be understood as a simultaneity of integration and its reverse – and the burgeoning postcolonial interest in heritage is usually explained by a growing curiosity about and interest in Hong Kong identity that only becomes apparent when it is threatened. Earlier generations had settled in Hong Kong from neighbouring provinces in South China and around the time of the Communist revolution, many merchants arrived from Shanghai and other port cities. Prior to these internal migrations the Hong Kong region had been sparsely populated and its indigenous clans did not have strong connections to the great traditions of Chinese culture and thought (Luk, 1991). Post-war economic refugees and earlier arrivals viewed Hong Kong as a temporary home, a place for 95 making money, finding employment, networking, buying property and finding opportunities for their families. It was a “city of the present” (Hughes, 1968, quoted in Mathews et al., 2007, p. 28). This changed as generations of children grew up in Hong Kong, experiencing a burgeoning local culture of television, radio and the unique landscapes of density and consumerism for which Hong Kong is well known. A sense of identity of Hong Kong-born and raised residents was further bolstered in relation to migrants from Vietnam and the Mainland in the 70s and early 80s, but it found a much fuller expression around the time of the handover. Social scientific surveys of cultural identity in relation to the handover found many Hong Kong residents identifying as Chinese, Hong Kong-Chinese or a full-blown local Heunggongyahn (Hong Konger) (Fung, 2001; 2004). An interviewee who works in the creative industries field views Hong Kong identity as “beyond Chinese” and attributes this to the rule of law. This confirms Mathews’ (1997) argument that Hong Kong identity amounted to Chinese “plus” other attributes: Chineseness plus affluence/cosmopolitan/capitalism, Chineseness plus democracy, Chineseness plus Westernness. For Abbas (1997b, p. 2), “It is not true, as some might wish you to believe, that if you scratch the surface of a Hong Kong person you will find a Chinese identity waiting to be reborn. The Hong Kong person is now a bird of a different feather.” Over a decade and a half later, the meanings are no more fixed. To complicate matters there is a sense that the Central Government Liaison Office, Beijing’s representative in Hong Kong, has a growing influence over internal affairs in the territory. As a result, political and social challenges related to Hong Kong’s sovereign status, such as debates over the introduction of national education curriculum (Chong et al., 2012), proliferate. If 1997 provoked questions about cultural identity via identification with the Chinese nation, it also inspired other engagements with culture, as manifest in “landscape of cultural 96 dynamics” that find expression in state led cultural infrastructure, art and activism (Cartier, 2008, p. 61). In relation to heritage, this dynamic opened a space of dialogue between policymakers, experts and advocates that had, until recently been clouded with antagonism. By rethinking its approach to heritage, the government was not only responding to local interests and needs. It was also a matter of the city’s image on the international stage. If it was to be a Chinese city once more, it could also be a global city, and a global city might feature heritage buildings and landscapes to lure tourists and investors, while also reinvigorating a sense of local Chinese culture. 4.4 Heritage, Education and Tourism: Legitimating a Political Project Two conferences held in the newly-minted SAR in the late 1990s augured the importance of action on heritage and suggested the willingness of the government to engage. The conferences were organized by David Lung, Chair of the Antiquities Advisory Board, a long-time advocate for heritage in the city, and co-founder of the Architectural Conservation Programme at Hong Kong University. In 1997 a conference was held on the theme of “Heritage and Education” and, in 1999, another on “Heritage and Tourism.” The 1999 conference was indirectly funded by the Home Affairs Bureau through a grant provided by the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust, developed by the Hong Kong government in 1992 (Chu & Uebegang, 2002). These events were important staging grounds for the legitimation of new thinking on heritage, and especially so because they brought together experts from around the world, over fifty people at each conference, to share their perspectives and to comment on the Hong Kong situation. These events, especially the latter, reflected an emerging stream of thought at world-leading institutions, such as the Getty Institute and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), around the economics of heritage, in particular, who pays for heritage and, if 97 investments are made, whether it can be self-sustaining. In Hong Kong this marked the beginning of a shift away from the idea that heritage, as a public cultural resource, must be publicly funded, and towards the consideration of heritage as a land development issue, not entirely antithetical to the capitalist city, that may generate revenues not only costs. The 1997 conference coincided with the “Year of Heritage”, a year-long celebration featuring a programme of fifty-two events, designed to “entice all of Hong Kong” to consider the meaning of cultural heritage in the city (personal interview, 10 November, 2010). Education and heritage was a fitting theme; Hong Kong’s education curriculum had long suffered a dearth of content on local culture and history which, as Luk (1991) explains, was due to its colonial status and peripheral position in relation to two centres, Britain and China. Following the Communist Revolution, scholars and educators who had arrived from the Mainland were tasked with developing textbooks and content for instruction in Chinese culture subjects. Previously these were produced by Chinese presses, but following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the content became laced with communist propaganda. Meanwhile, textbooks from Taiwan were clouded with ultranationalism and also deemed inappropriately politicized. The new Chinese culture curriculum was thus rooted in a historical vision of Chinese culture, divorced both from contemporary concerns and geographically distant from Hong Kong. In schools, Hong Kong pupils learned “to identify themselves as Chinese but relating that Chineseness to neither contemporary China nor the local Hong Kong landscape. It was a Chinese identity in the abstract, a patriotism of the émigré" (Luk, 1991, p. 668). This began to change at the time of the handover and the conference on heritage and education drew attention to the need for further discussion on cultural education that would touch upon the particularities of local history, culture and landscape. It was also at this event that David Lung was encouraged by 98 participants to pursue the idea of developing a tertiary education programme in heritage conservation (personal interview, 10 November, 2010), which was undertaken at The University of Hong Kong in 2000. Education subsequently became a central focus of the activities of the Antiquities and Monuments Office. The conversation took an economistic turn in 1999 at the conference on heritage and tourism. David Lung’s presentation drew an explicit link between Hong Kong’s image as a “global city” and its lack of attention to heritage: Should Hong Kong be developed into a world-class but faceless metropolis of the so-called ‘global community’ of the 21st century? Or should Hong Kong play an active role in preserving its cultural heritage which will enable it to be identified as a unique and culturally significant part of the world in the mode of New York, London and Paris? […] The successful long term development of Hong Kong into a better place lies not only with the physical, economic and technological “glitters”, but also with the underlying cultural-heritage assets that will give Hong Kong its soul and identity. (Lung, 1999) Lung also initiated a conversation on the policy set-up for heritage, which allowed only a limited engagement with tourism and development goals. He recommended that heritage be moved from the Home Affairs Bureau, which deals with Culture, to the Development Bureau, where it would be treated as a land and planning issue. If it was a cultural domain worthy of the attention of educators, it was also an economic resource. More to the point, perhaps the only way forward in Hong Kong was to embrace a heritage industry that could coexist with the creative destruction of the capitalist economy. Lung (1999) opened his address with the question: “Is our heritage for sale?” and his answer was a “qualified ‘yes’”. 4.5 The Culture and Heritage Commission The Culture and Heritage Commission (CHC) was launched in 2000 to develop a strategic direction for cultural policy, an area in which Hong Kong was lacking. As Cartier (2008) notes, local culture was not a prominent feature on the agenda of the government until the 99 1990s, when investments and interest flourished, resulting in the development of cultural infrastructure such as museums, performance spaces and galleries. Earlier forays in this area by the colonial government were nominal, secondary to housing, education, transportation and, of course, the economy. Marking a new direction, the goal of the Commission was to advise the government on “long term policies and funding priorities in the development of culture in Hong Kong” (HKSAR, 2003, p. 1). Several concrete recommendations were made in the Commission’s final report, including amending the administrative set-up, rationalizing the offerings at government-run cultural institutions, such as museums and performance venues, and investing in arts and culture education. A reading at a more abstract level permits the proper contextualization of this project. The Commission was motivated by a dual purpose of enhancing Chinese cultural roots, although perhaps through a modern lens, but also maintaining the pluralistic and open perspective on culture it had developed as a British colony. This was a post-1997 project, of course, with a view to integration. But it also recognized the importance of the singularity of the Hong Kong experience. The report affirmed that Hong Kong was in a “favourable position to integrate Chinese and Western cultures” (HKSAR, 2003, p. 43); it had both a local and a global orientation. The CHC report pivots around a construct called the “global cultural metropolis,” devoting an entire section to this idea (HKSAR, 2003, p. 42). There are several comparisons to New York and London, the foremost examples of the outlook animating the work. For instance, the number of museums in Hong Kong lags well behind, and more generally, Hong Kong simply lacks the “vibrant cultural environment” of these cities. One of the features of the “global cultural metropolis” is cultural heritage which, the report explains, “bears witness to the development of a place and helps its citizens to understand their history and cultural identity” 100 (HKSAR, 2003, p. 42). And given the inclusion of heritage in as an item in cultural policy, the state plays a key role in this area. In Hong Kong, the government has not done enough, the report admits. There has not been adequate funding for the Antiquities and Monuments Office, the administrative structure has not allowed for adequate consideration of heritage as a land planning issue. “Efforts in heritage conservation often involve issues of land use and town planning. The ambit of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance is not broad enough for the effective implementation of heritage conservation work” (HKSAR, 2003, p. 42). This had been mentioned in the Chief Executive policy address in 1999 and the Culture and Heritage Commission was in part intended to facilitate a transition in this direction. The report categorically states that “A city that neglects heritage conservation will never become a cultural metropolis” (HKSAR, 2003, p. 42). A section of the report addresses the creative industries and proposes an interesting confluence of this area with heritage. In the early 2000s the discourse of creative industry as an urban policy area was gaining significant traction and circulating throughout Asia (Kong et al., 2006). The creative industries run the gamut from design to publishing to film and beyond and, according to the rhetoric popularized by Florida (2004), are strategically positioned to excel in the post-industrial knowledge-based economy. The idealism of Florida’s treatise, blind to the workings of neoliberal urbanism, continues to flourish among consultants and policymakers in spite of scathing critiques from his academic peers (Peck, 2005). Here, to be developed in Chapter 5, there is a special connection to heritage, as arts and culture uses, in the most general sense, are positioned as the highest and best use of repurposed historic buildings (HKSAR, 2003, p. 43). Although they may also take shape in flagship megaprojects, such as the West Kowloon Cultural District, creative industries exist in a mutually reinforcing economic relationship with 101 aestheticized historic environments. They add value to older buildings by reinforcing their relationship with culture; old buildings add value to creative industries by situating them in a stylized urban realm. The final report of the Culture and Heritage Commission is dated 31 March, 2003, less than three weeks after the World Health Organization had issued a global alert in response to the SARS virus. Hong Kong was deeply implicated in the spread of the disease as one of the early centres of infection and subsequent mobility of the disease (Ng, 2009). The epidemic temporarily crippled the city. Hong Kong is a place of inescapable density and communal gatherings in public places. The density of the city, combined with its links to other places, made Hong Kong the perfect vector for infection. But the very factors that encouraged the spread of the disease, first in Hong Kong and then outward, are vital to the territory’s economy and social life. Thus, the impact was devastating: “the stress of this in the city was enormous. It was a highly emotional time. Nobody was in the streets. Nobody was in the restaurants” (personal interview, 26 May, 2010). An interviewee emphasized the pervasive pessimistic outlook during this time: I remember I went to a cinema with my wife. There were only two of us in the cinema. This never happened on a Sunday. And then we go to this Chinese restaurant for dim sum. Going to dim sum is the most popular thing in Hong Kong, with my family. And there were four of us in the vast restaurant, [a] 200 seat restaurant, there were only four of us. It was that bad. It was that bad. And nobody has any hope of Hong Kong coming around… (personal interview, 29 April, 2010) The SARS crisis, the height of which lasted from March through the summer months of 2003, required the government’s full attention. To make matters worse, the crisis coincided with debate over Article 23, a highly controversial proposed amendment to the Hong Kong Basic Law that would increase the government’s powers of surveillance and intervention in the expression of dissension. The July 1st demonstrations in 2003 drew the largest crowd since 1989, in spite of the 102 recent scare of disease, and forced the retraction of the proposal. The recommendations of the CHC were not a priority during this time and were relegated to the back shelf. 4.6 The Roots of the New Heritage Activism An urban social movement in the first decade after the handover had various strands in different but complementary areas, including the privatization of public housing, government-led urban renewal, and the development of a cultural district at West Kowloon through a partnership with a single developer (Chu, 2010). The common ground among these causes is a challenge to the “land (re)development regime” (Tang, 2008), the hegemonic ideology guiding policy and planning in the Hong Kong government and its persistent collusion with a “ruling class” of tycoons and elites (Poon, 2006). Heritage, with its collective claims to space and challenge to the imperatives of development, emerged as one of the trajectories of this movement. Its inclusion among other concerns nonetheless requires a situated account. The present interpretation highlights contestation over the Star Ferry and Queen’s Piers as a turning point in the discourse of heritage conservation as an urban policy issue in Hong Kong. The roots of the current heritage conservation activism lie properly not in the heritage activism of the 1970s and 80s discussed in Chapter 3 (although this was an important antecedent), but more concretely in environmental and planning activism related to harbour reclamation in the 1990s. Building out into the harbour had been an important source of developable land and government revenue since the first decade of the colony (Bristow, 1984). When the north shore of Hong Kong island was settled it was said that there were three directions for growth – east and west along the narrow coastline, up the steep slopes behind, and out into the water – and that all three were pursued with equal gusto (Endacott, 1956). Reclamation proceeded unproblematically throughout the first hundred years of the territory, first 103 carried out by landholders in a piecemeal fashion, and later planned by government. Markers of the earlier shoreline are surprising. Queen Street, originally on the harbour front, is so far removed from the shore that it is not even conceivable that water once lapped at its base. The same is true of the area around Reclamation Street and Shanghai Street in Kowloon. Opened in 1997, the Chek Lap Kok airport represented an entirely new scale of reclamation: a vital piece of transportation infrastructure serving millions of people a year was built entirely on reclaimed land. All told, 35% of all settled area of the Hong Kong territory is on reclaimed land (Shelton, Karakiewicz, & Kvan, 2011, p. 4). In 1995, the Society for the Protection of the Harbour (SPH) was formed with the intent of revealing the harmful effects of reclamation for the sake of land development and challenging the government’s future plans in this area. It was inspired to take action by large-scale reclamation projects in Central and Wan Chai that drastically altered Victoria Harbour: “it was turning into a river” (personal interview, 3 May, 2010). The turning point was the 334 hectare project initiated in the 1980s and carried out in the early 90s. The appearance of the shoreline and the experience of visiting it were changed beyond recognition. Indeed, by the mid-1990s the distance between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon had been reduced from 2.3km to 920 metres and the harbour’s original area reduced by half (Ku, 2012). A last piece of this project, initiated in the mid-90s, would significantly alter one of the main places in Central where people could easily gain access to the harbourfront, and where they had done for decades. This area, around City Hall, was designed as a centre for cultural activity, featuring galleries, performance spaces and restaurants. It formed an ensemble with the Queen’s and Star Ferry Piers and was an important space in the post-war period. The reclamation effectively cut this area off from the water. “It is one of the very, very big changes for us because we used to have piers that we can 104 all go to and just look out to the harbour… It was very disturbing, actually for people who … lived in that area” (personal interview, 3 May, 2010). SPH was formed by business and professional elites who were adept at navigating spaces of politics and the judiciary system and it succeeded in passing a legislative bill in 1997, prior to the handover, which effectively halted four reclamation projects. Smart and Lam (2009, p. 199) suggest that this success “represents an important milestone in social learning by the protest groups.” In 1999, the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance was extended to the entire harbour. Though the bill passed, it did not prohibit the completion of the reclamation project underway in Central. The SPH, in spite of its political success, interpreted the continuation of this project as a major defeat and resigned itself to another failure. As the project took shape, however, questions beyond the environmental effects of the reclamation emerged. The cultural significance of the harbour, previously taken for granted, became an important question16. One interviewee, a built environment professional, said in no uncertain terms that “no one would argue” that the harbour is the most significant heritage asset in the city, (personal interview, 29 April, 2010). “The harbour is a unique natural asset that at the same time evokes something emotional for Hong Kong people… It’s just kind of in the DNA” (personal interview, 18 May, 2010). Other questions followed: land is reclaimed, then what is it used for? Is it sold to the highest bidder? Is a road built on it, for the ease of movement for the fraction of wealthy people in the territory that own cars? And finally, what is done with the buildings, such as the Star Ferry and Queen’s Piers, whose functions are connected to the harbour, but whose meanings extend far beyond it? 16 Victoria Harbour was one of a number of places and landscape features considered in Hong Kong’s bid for its first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite strong support among professionals and experts for the harbour, the government decided to put forward the Nunnery, a complex featuring a number of newly-built structures (Franchineau, 2013). 105 4.7 The Star Ferry and Queen’s Piers The eruption of heritage as a fully-fledged social movement was consolidated with the conflict over the destruction of the Star Ferry and Queen’s Piers. The controversy was unexpected, not least due to history; both piers had already undergone a number of relocations. In 1912 a Star Ferry pier was constructed in the Georgian architectural style on Ice House Street. Queen’s Pier, first a wooden wharf known as Queen’s Statue Pier, was reincarnated as a reinforced concrete structure in 1925. The 1912 Star Ferry Pier and the 1925 Queen’s Pier were constructed along shoreline created during the Praya reclamation scheme which took place between 1889 and 1903. Post-war reclamation during the period of rapid growth in the 1950s required the construction of new piers which, along with the Central Library, were constructed in a modern, utilitarian style by architects in the Public Works Department. Hong Kong’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legislation was passed in 1997 and took effect the following year. The third phase of the Central harbour reclamation, at issue here, was thus subject to an assessment which included a study of impacts on heritage components in the project site. This was conducted separately from the other components of the EIA and appears in an appendix to the final report. The assessment acknowledges the importance of the Star Ferry Pier; although it could not qualify as a historical building by its age alone, its “role played in Hong Kong’s transport history of [the] modern era” is of “great significance” (Chan, 2001, p. 9). Interestingly, the report goes on to note that the destruction of the pier “would likely raise public objection and dismay.” It recommends relocating the pier’s clock tower, if not the whole building “to a new home suitably in harmony with its surroundings.” Although less space is devoted to Queen’s Pier and Edinburgh Place, the report does mention their “civic and political functions in the colonial period of Post-War Hong Kong” and state that “Their 106 demolition for reclamation would scrap forever the concrete link to a brief past of local development” (Chan, 2001, p. 10). This assessment only scratches the surface of the meanings of these buildings. Further explanation of their history will help properly contextualize the action occasioned by their demolition. The Star Ferry Pier serves the ferry service of the same name, initiated in 1888 by Dowrabjee Nowrajee, a Parsi businessman who owned a hotel in the Central district of Hong Kong Island, but lived in Tsim-Sha Tsui in Kowloon. The crossing assumed a regular schedule in the 1890s in response to population growth in Kowloon, and the Kowloon Wharf took over operations in 1898. The highest use of the ferry was from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, prior to the opening of the cross-harbour tunnel, and especially the installation of the MTR link connecting Kowloon to Hong Kong. In its 110-year history, the Star Ferry and its piers have been the site of progressive political movements, an object of the tourist gaze and fixture of the urban scene. In 1966, plans to raise the ticket price were met with protests undergirded by dissatisfaction with the colonial government. The resulting riots are regarded as a significant moment in the development of civic activism in Hong Kong (Scott, 1989). The Star Ferry has also become part of Hong Kong’s imaginative geography on a more mundane level. As a form of public transit, a simple mode of conveyance for commuters, tourists and Hong Kongers on outings, the ferry is convenient, inexpensive and offers views of Hong Kong’s famous skyline and mountains. A one-way trip, lasting 7 minutes is $1.50HK for the lower deck and $2.20HK for the upper deck. The Star Ferry and its piers have featured in various cultural productions, most famously in the opening scene of the World of Suzie Wong (1957), a novel written through a problematic male orientalist gaze by Richard Mason and adapted for screen in 1960. The ferry has also been evoked in music. Clarence Mak Wai-chu’s piece Sentiments in the Wind was 107 inspired by memories of wind blowing across the harbour, as experienced while riding on the ferry as a child (Ingham, 2007, p. 166). Although the piers are an integral part of the ferry crossing, they are not as famous as the ferry crossing itself. The Hong Kong Island side pier was architecturally unremarkable. Unlike many transit hubs, it housed a few small kiosks selling refreshments, newspapers and ice cream, but not the chain stores found in malls and hotels across Hong Kong. In contrast to the Star Ferry Pier’s function as a place of transit, everyday activities and of tourism, Queen’s Pier was used for ceremonial purposes. Throughout the colonial period it was the point of arrival and departure of Hong Kong’s governors and visiting British royalty. Boats provided transport across the harbour to and from Kai Tak airport, but for all intents and purposes, Queen’s Pier was the symbolic port of entry to Hong Kong. It was also the point of departure of Hong Kong’s last governor, Sir Chris Patten, and thus held a special symbolism in relation to the handover. Initially reserved exclusively for special occasions, it was opened to the public in 1954 when it was rebuilt after the post-War reclamation. It then acquired a function as a space of gathering, rest and recreation. It was a place to go on dates, for picnics, to look at the harbour and find peace from the crush of the city. By the 1980s, on Sundays, it also became a popular place for foreign domestic workers to meet and socialize, being only a short walk from other popular gathering places, such as Statue Square and Chater Road (Law, 2002). Further to the findings of the EIA, consultations highlighted the historical significance of the Star Ferry Pier and its status as a Hong Kong icon. The Antiquities Advisory Board discussed the heritage impacts of the harbour reclamation at a meeting on March 13, 2002. No objections were raised and there was no mention of the possibility of conserving either building through the grading process. Given some acknowledgement of the historical significance of the area, a 108 consensus was reached whereby the design of the new ferry structure would be a “historic heritage” interpretation of the 1912 Ice Street pier. Although a modern design similar to the existing structure was considered, the Georgian architectural style of the early twentieth century building was deemed more appropriate. Thus, the symbolic importance of the existing Star Ferry Pier was recognized by enhancing its history with the construction of a replica. Frankie Yick Chi-ming, chief manager of external relations for Wharf group, which controls the Star Ferry, was interviewed in 2003 regarding plans for the redevelopment. His description of the new Star Ferry Pier emphasizes its appeal to tourists: “it will be an area of intense tourist interest,” (Sinclair, 2003), featuring upscale dining experiences and international retail boutiques. In the summer of 2006 a group of artists had begun weekly art actions at the Pier. The actions involved performances and public outreach and revolved around the theme of collective memory in the city. Through media coverage, both independent and mainstream, and the use of social media platforms such as online discussion boards and facebook, activist groups with different backgrounds began to participate in rallies and gatherings and public interest grew. What began as a loosely affiliated network developed into an alliance called “Local Action”. While many of the participants were young students, they drew on the knowledge, experience and support of others, including Korean activists who had traveled to Hong Kong to protest against the WTO meetings in 2005. They learned demonstration tactics, such as the possibility of transforming the meanings and public perceptions of a place by reclaiming it: “if one demonstration happened on that street, then we can have it a second time. And then when we do it in a repeated way, then it would be accepted in the society and then we win that street or we win that area” (personal interview, 21 October, 2010). This confirms Ku’s (2012, p. 8) assessment that the piers protests were “as much about forging a new understanding of urban 109 space in general [as] commemorating and protecting… particular places of value.” And thus the success of the action at the Piers was largely a result of “live-ins” and performance art that invited the articulation of collectively redefined meanings. Protests at Queen’s Pier built upon the momentum created at earlier gatherings at the Star Ferry Pier. The government had revisited and slightly delayed its plans in light of the growing controversy but proceeded after the reelection of Tsang. The last remaining protesters were forcibly removed on July 30, 2007.17 In spite of the force of the protests, there is a sense that for many participants, the cause was somewhat arbitrary and accidental. A heritage professional likened the atmosphere in the years after the handover to a pot of water reaching the boiling point (personal interview, 15 June, 2010). If not this issue, another would have tipped the balance. Fittingly, an interviewee who had participated in the protests explained that he did not feel a strong connection to the piers. Having grown up in Kwun Tong and later in an estate in the New Territories, he rarely visited Central and did not have memories of riding the Star Ferry. He took part because it was an opportunity to express dissatisfaction with the government and the status quo. He said: “we all are angry, but we don’t know how to express our anger” (personal interview, 30 April, 2010); protesting the redevelopment plans on the Central waterfront became a tangible avenue to articulate such sentiments. The government didn’t relent, instead suffering a full-fledged crisis of legitimacy as the perception of its insensitivity to public sentiments spread widely among the public. Work pressed ahead and the Star Ferry Pier was demolished while Queen’s Pier was disassembled for later re-installation. 17 Henderson (2008) provides a detailed account of the interceding events. 110 4.8 After the Piers Protests The protests at the Piers enlivened the urban social movement and subsequent directions of the activists involved broadened to include related issues. In 2008, Local Action staged a series of interventions in a privately owned public space at the Times Square Shopping Mall in Causeway Bay (Wong, 2008). So-called “Public Open Spaces”, another example of which is the IFC rooftop mentioned in the previous chapter, are commonly included in large scale developments in exchange for the relaxation of zoning provisions but they are often regulated as private spaces would be. Local Action uncovered the planning deed for the Times Square “Piazza” and found that the land holder is not entitled to control the public use of this space. It organized music, art, fundraising and other kinds of activities to engage the public sphere and disrupt the habitual use of the Piazza as an appendage to a space of consumption – the shopping mall (Fung & Nip, 2009). When I visited for an extended period in 2010 members of Local Action had begun working closely with residents of Choi Yuen Tsuen, a village in the New Territories that would be displaced by the X-Rail, the high-speed train connection to Guangzhou. The shift to a rural focus should not be seen as a retreat from urban activities but a realization that expressions of state power, increasingly a reflection of PRD integration, that are manifest in highly visible and concrete ways on Hong Kong Island also run deep in less visible places in Hong Kong’s rural hinterland and that resistance in these places is important as well (Lai, 2009). Since Local Action is a loosely affiliated group, many of its members move in and out of its activities depending on their availability and interest. Other groups that had played a more behind the scenes role at the Piers protests continued working on redevelopment and heritage conservation issues, less through direct action and more through established channels of dissent, including letter writing, petitions, Town Planning Board representations, and public 111 consultations. A member of Local Action suggested that such activities are inevitably part of the operation of the established mode of governance and not divorced from elite interests (personal interview, 21 October, 2010). As we will see in later chapters, pressure exerted by softer means may be more predictable and easily absorbed, but it is pressure nonetheless. The protests at the Piers and in the following years did not succeed in their stated aims. However, due to extensive media coverage and the widespread purchase of the movement, the government recognized the importance of the next steps in the planning process for reclaimed lands on the waterfront. As a result, the New Central Harbourfront was included on a list of eight publicly owned sites in Central in the “Conserving Central” initiative announced in 2009. The government promised that the new harbourfront would be beautified based on the wishes expressed in public consultations held between 2007 and 2011, following on the heels of the protests (HKSAR, 2008). As an early step forward, it announced that Queen’s Pier’s salvaged materials would be reassembled at a new waterfront location. The change in location left some commentators skeptical of the government’s intent, since the Development Bureau had originally promised to consider rebuilding the pier at its original location (Ng, 2009b). Further controversy emerged when it became known that a portion of the new waterfront east of the ferry piers would be closed to public access for use as a berth for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) under conditions specified in the Garrison Law (Ku, 2012). Based on experience, this did not come as a surprise. 4.9 The Post-1980s (“Post-New Town Plaza”) Generation Although harbour reclamation is an important antecedent of the Piers protests, many of the individuals who became involved in the Local Action network over the course of the summer and fall of 2006 were different from the SPH members; they were younger, they came from 112 diverse backgrounds and many had little experience in political activism (although some had participated in efforts to prevent the renewal project at Wedding Card Street). An activist described his initiation with local politics at these sites as a fraught experience. He explained a Cantonese expression that means that when you commit to something, you “fall into” it. To pursue a career in a professional domain or even a hobby is expected, but to “fall into” a political commitment or concern is not. “This is quite embarrassing to tell other people that you are participating in something political.” He went on to say that when he was growing up in the 1980s and 90s, Hong Kong people, especially young people, “don’t dare to ‘falling into something,’ but after, I think 2003 and afterwards, many of us are looking for a way to ‘falling into something’ very local” (personal interview, 21 October, 2010). This was no less than a surrender to local issues. This younger cohort of people in their 20s and 30s are part of what is known as the Post-80s generation. This phrase became popularized in Hong Kong in relation to new urban activism at these sites, and subsequent protests, mentioned above concerning the high speed rail link to Guangzhou and public space issues.18 It has a political connotation that has at times been obscured in the discourse. Differing views on the meaning of the term are revealed in a letter written by Chan King Fai, a contributor to the independent online journal Inmediahk.net, to the Financial Secretary, Jong Tsang in 2010. The letter was translated to English by Alice Poon, author of the widely read book Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong and published in the Asia Sentinel (Chan & Poon, 2010). In the letter, Chan draws attention to a blog post by Tsang which suggests that members of the Post-80s generation are preoccupied with the pursuit of 18 In mainland China the phrase Post-80s refers to the period after the introduction of the one-child policy. 113 material gains; about not only owning a home, but one that includes access to amenities such as a swimming pool and club house. Chan aims to correct this misrepresentation. He describes the outlook of the younger generation that grew with the modern high-rise plazas and shopping malls that were constructed in New Towns such as Sha Tin and redeveloped areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. For older generations, these were “plazas of wonder”, a far cry from the crowded and chaotic city where there still existed large squatter areas and “wooden huts”. For Hong Kong people in their 20s and 30s, especially those that were raised in New Town public housing estates, there grew to be an intense interest in older neighbourhoods, borne of a fatigue over the monotony and meaninglessness of the experience of highrise living and dime-a-dozen shopping malls. A young activist I spoke to echoed the sentiments expressed in Chan’s letter: “I find that when I grow up, life is so dull, and this is like the suburbs in the United States. It’s so boring, so when I studied in university, I started to walk around old districts” (personal interview, 30 April, 2010). The evocation of suburbia is startling because the density of Hong Kong, even in the New Territories, bears no resemblance to American-style sprawl, but this interviewee notes a similar experience of placelessness (Relph, 1976) in new residential and commercial landscapes. By rediscovering and revealing the meaning of the city of recent memory, the places that exist under a continual possibility of disappearance and redevelopment (Abbas, 1997b), the young activists articulate a new vision of urban space. The aim is not to acquire better jobs, higher incomes or to achieve any kind of economic gain. Rather the vision is nothing short of a re-articulation of city life and city space19. Heritage is a part of this insofar as 19 The perspective that valorizes use value over exchange value aligns with Lefebvrian lens on the production of new city spaces through which a number of Hong Kong scholars have assessed contemporary urban social movements (Ng et al., 2010; Ku, 2012). Purcell’s (2008) book on “recapturing” democracy in order to more effectively challenge the ever-mutating forms of neoliberal urbanism might also contribute to this conversation. 114 it respects historical neighbourhoods and spaces, and the communities that exist in and depend on them, in situ. “We see what’s really important in Hong Kong are the labouring masses, the community that belongs to the citizens, the homes and the stories that belong to them” (personal interview, 30 April, 2010). 4.10 The State’s Response Every year the Chief Executive delivers a policy address, outlining the government’s priorities for the coming year. In the colonial era it was a rare instance of direct contact with the populace and an effort to respond to their needs and desires. In the post-colonial period, it continues, a bellwether for important policy directions and still peppered with reassurances that the government is on track. Prior to the events at the Piers in late 2006 and 2007, heritage did not appear in the CE policy addresses. There was not one mention of the word “heritage” in the 2006-2007 policy address (delivered in 2006) and only one mention the year prior, in reference to the Culture and Heritage Commission. In contrast, in the 2007-2008 policy address, delivered on October 12, 2007, heritage is mentioned nineteen times. This marks a significant turn in the government’s outlook and an emphasis on heritage as a policy area that deserves attention. The sections on heritage conservation appear in the section entitled “Quality City and Quality Life”, sandwiched, fittingly, between sub-headings on Environmental Protection and Creative Capital. The topic is introduced as though it is a concession: “In recent years, Hong Kong people have expressed our passion for our culture and lifestyle. This is something we should cherish. In the next five years, I will press ahead with our work on heritage conservation” (HKSAR, 2007, no. 49). The apparent government commitment to heritage is even more in evidence in a “letter to the people” read by the CE on the Radio Television HK on January 28, 2007. The tone of the 115 letter is constructive and conciliatory. Donald Tsang states he has heard the desires of the Hong Kong people and says he is willing to respond to the “sea change” in public opinion. The term “sea change” emphasizes the transformation of thinking on the topic of heritage to which most people had previously not paid much attention. The letter attributes the new interest in heritage to a growing sense of collective memory, not only for ancient relics and monuments, but everyday places that residents have lived with for the past few decades, and that contribute to their sense of place of place and identity. Tsang notes two challenges the government and people currently face. The first is allowing for public input in an area that does not have pre-established consultation channels. The second is balancing conservation with development in ways that will not jeopardize Hong Kong’s ability to compete with rival cities, especially in the Mainland. A key ingredient in this competition, the letter notes, is infrastructure: “The community must understand that investment in infrastructure is vital if Hong Kong is to remain a dynamic and thriving world city” (Tsang, 2007). This is fitting, as the harbourfront reclamation was mainly envisaged for road and railway infrastructure.20 Although the protests at the Star Ferry Pier and Queen’s Pier surprised the government because they involved groups that were “not the usual suspects,” and because of the media publicity they garnered, the government was actually well-prepared to respond. Behind the scenes work in relation to the Culture and Heritage Commission and earlier reviews of built heritage policies had provided directions for tangible changes. An expert I interviewed suggested that the government took advantage of the opportunity created by the protest, and in doing so appeared responsive to public demands. 20 The key role of transportation infrastructure – partly to provide an interface with China under reform - in Hong Kong’s competitiveness was formulated in a Territorial Development Strategy in 1984, updated in 1989 (Ng, 1993; Ku, 2012). 116 This is actually a good conservation policy. It’s very well thought out, and there’s no way you can come up with such a good policy within less than 10 months, a year. No way. That means the government always had this all along and they just didn’t feel that it’s the right time to push it out and then now, since it’s under political pressure, this is something they can use to quieten down all of these grievances? The use of the word “policy” in the preceding statement is misleading. The policy, as contained in the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, remains unchanged. Rather than amend the policy, the government introduced a series of initiatives related to heritage conservation. If it had changed the content of the policy, state actors would need to admit the need for “directional change”, something it is reluctant to do in any area that is perceived as a potential threat to economic competitiveness (personal interview, 18 May, 2010). It has taken a similar approach to environmental protection, instituting initiatives but failing to take a hard line with respect to air quality objectives. Interviews with built environment professionals reiterated this idea: “they want flexibility to do case by case deals” (personal interview, 8 October, 2010); “it’s a quick response to all the happenings in the last few years, but it is not policy change” (personal interview, 11 June, 2010). Furthermore, although there were immediate changes based upon earlier work, the following chapter will reveal that an extensive reflexive exercise in policy learning was also undertaken in an effort to further refine areas of interest related to built heritage. If heritage activism came to represent a generalized dissatisfaction with governance in Hong Kong, the government envisioned that a suite of initiatives and administrative changes ushered in in the wake of the protests might cure these grievances. The initiatives include the “Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme,” which earmarks government owned buildings for NGOs or creative industry start-ups in an adjudicated competition, as well 117 as the introduction of heritage impact assessments and the initiation of a flagship project in Central (HKSAR, 2009b; Ku, 2010). The Conserving Central plan, introduced in the 2009-2010 Policy Address, features eight projects for government-owned buildings and sites: the Central Market, the former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road, the Police Station Compound, the Piers sites and several others. The philosophy guiding these projects is “progressive development”, emphasizing a balance between cultural conservation and economic development. The intent is to generate new spaces for leisure and consumption in these revitalized structures. Plans will be carried out over a lengthy period. As we will see in a later chapter, conflicting visions of the values of these sites has already emerged. The administrative changes include the creation of the Commissioner for Heritage Office under a new Development Bureau, within which are concentrated all of the departments which deal with land development issues and hence are related to heritage conservation. Notably absent from the newly introduced measures is a way for enhancing the protection of privately owned buildings. 4.11 The New Heritage Discourse Aligning with the period examined in this chapter, beginning with the handover and burgeoning interest in heritage in isolated quarters in the late 1990s and ending with the existence of a pervasive interest in and understanding of heritage issues among members of the general public, there is a noticeable increase in reporting on heritage in the media. As mentioned above, one of the reasons that the government responded so swiftly to the Piers protests is that extensive reporting in the print and television media generated widespread public interest. It is impossible to establish a direct relationship between reporting, public interest in and sympathy with the heritage movement, and the government response. Nonetheless, it may be advanced that they are mutually reinforcing parts of a new heritage discourse. The mainstream newspapers, left 118 and centre on the political spectrum, reported heritage protests and controversies with increasing frequency during this period. A keyword search of just one paper, the English-language South China Morning Post, reveals both the importance of events in 2006 and 2007 and more general trends. Figure 2: Heritage content in the South China Morning Post 1997-2013 Figure 2 shows the number of mentions of heritage keywords – heritage conservation, heritage preservation, collective memory, and relic – in the SCMP each year from 1997 to 2013. Searches of other words and word combinations were attempted but returned content not related to urban and cultural heritage or Hong Kong. There are several things to be said about the trends represented on this graph. First, the term “relic” was in fairly common usage in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This may be due to the earlier emphasis on archaeology and historicity in Antiquities and Monuments Office, and in the government more generally, as explained in the previous chapter. “Relic” is also a literal translation of the Chinese term for heritage, the former 119 falling out of usage and the latter becoming more common21. Both “heritage conservation” and “heritage preservation” had next to no mentions in the late 90s. The gradual increase in their usage coincides with key events and trends around the year 2000, including the international conferences in 1997 and 1999 discussed in this chapter, a burgeoning interest in heritage as a feature of urban renewal, and the creation of the Architectural Conservation Programme at HKU which, as Chapter 4 will show, had a significant impact on heritage discourse in the city. “Collective memory” is a term which is part of the heritage discourse and, though problematic in some ways for its exclusions (Boyer, 1996), speaks to the interest in an identifiable Hong Kong culture and experience (distinct from China) that may be located in the recent past. The spikes, most notably the one in 2007, are related to particular sites. In 2004, the Wedding Card Street controversy erupted, in late 2006 and early 2007 the protests at the Piers garnered prolonged media coverage, and in 2009 and 2010, the King Yin Lei and Wing Lee Street controversies and heritage initiatives introduced by the government, including Conserving Central, were much in the news. Over the course of the entire period the language of heritage entered the mainstream English-language media in a steady and sustained fashion, signifying not only an interest in this issue among reports, but also an appetite among members of the public readers of the newspaper. The overall trend, barring a few dips and bumps, is an increase in heritage content, using the international discourse of cultural heritage, and a less consistent usage of the language archaeology and antiquity represented by the term “relic.” 21 “Heritage” is often used as an object noun in Hong Kong English as a direct translation from Chinese. In contrast, in North America and the U.K. heritage is used as a general noun and is often followed with another noun (house, building, object). In Hong Kong it is not uncommon to refer to “a heritage”, which may be an object (relic) from the past. 120 4.12 Conclusion This chapter has situated the present concern over heritage in Hong Kong within a constellation of political, cultural and economic currents that have emerged since the handover in 1997. The purpose of this brief contextual history has been to debunk analyses that propose a simple causal relationship between heritage as a public concern, as expressed at protests in 2006 and 2007, and the government response that followed. The situated account provided here has shown that work was undertaken in this area behind the scenes in the late 1990s. These early discussions, manifest in conferences and policy studies, were both part of the HKSAR’s emphasis on cultural development in the postcolonial period, and a response to regional and global developments in the area of heritage policy. That is to say, they aimed both to develop a sense of local and regional Chinese cultural identity and to enhance the territory’s use of heritage as a tool for place marketing and tourism. Central to this agenda was the idea that heritage should be complementary to development, properly placed in the post-industrial creative economy. When the third phase of the Central Reclamation inspired a wave of experimental civic activism which included, among other concerns, the articulation of a vision of collective Hong Kong heritage, the government was able to respond quickly, wrapping the complicated, shifting and contradictory meanings of heritage into a manageable bundle. The rapid response is therefore not due centrally due to a concern for the public on the part of the government, but rather it also represents a strategic direction for the entrepreneurial global city. The reaction to the initiatives has been tepid; there is a tacit understanding that “directional change” in this policy area is not possible due to Hong Kong’s land regime and economy. 121 Chapter 5: The Geography of Heritage Policy Learning In 2007 the HKSAR heritage policy portfolio was relocated from the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) to the newly formed Development Bureau (DEVB), created to replace the Bureau for Housing, Planning and Lands. Carrie Lam was appointed Secretary for Development (SDEV), head of this policy area, and served a five year term until 201222. With heritage at the forefront of policy issues of public concern during the time of her tenure, Lam was entrusted with the very sensitive work of shoring up the perception of the government’s mishandling of the review of heritage conservation policy, and the unresponsiveness to public desires evinced in recent controversies. This was done in a variety of ways, most visibly through the creation of initiatives, such as the Revitalising Public Buildings through Partnership Scheme (HKSAR, 2007, no. 49-56), but also through public relations work and adjustments to the management and administration of heritage in the HKSAR government. Less visible, but no less important, was behind the scenes work involving policy learning. The DEVB addresses specifically urban forms of development; it is not interested in indicators of human development or even economic development writ large, but rather the development of Hong Kong’s most scarce but highly profitable resource: land. As such, it advises the government on policies for urban planning, land administration, building registration, urban renewal and areas of related interest, including built heritage. Lam’s duties as SDEV, typical of any such high-ranking public official, included regular travel for state business. The themes engaged during her travels varied widely across the work of the bureau and according to 22 In 2012 Carrie Lam moved to the position of Chief Secretary of Administration, assisting the Chief Executive in overseeing the work of the policy bureaus. 122 the purpose of the travel: in response to an invitation from a foreign government, to attend or speak at a conference, or a Hong Kong-inspired mission involving meetings and visits to gather information and build relationships. Of interest here is how the work done on these travels relates to the process of working through the Hong Kong situation and attempts to remake policy. In particular, the focus is on how the theme of heritage has figured in these travels, and how these engagements, understood as instances of policy learning, are related more broadly to a relational geography of heritage policy. During her term as Secretary for Development, Carrie Lam traveled internationally for business that included the heritage conservation policy area approximately seventeen times23. Although heritage conservation may not have been the primary purpose of the travel, it was nonetheless included in official announcements issued to the public and generated for internal circulation. In January, 2008 Lam travelled to Shanghai where she visited “distinctive buildings” including 1933 Old Millfun, a slaughterhouse undergoing refurbishment as part of the Shanghai government’s creative industry strategy (DEVB, 2008a). She was shown how the municipality was “sparing no effort” in reinventing the building as a hub for creative firms. Later the same year Lam visited New York City to give a plenary address at a symposium on vertical density in Hong Kong and New York (DEVB, 2008b). During this visit she also met with the Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Committee and toured historic buildings including the Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library and public spaces such as the Union Square Green Market. In 2010, a visit to Wellington included a meeting with the New Zealand Historic Places 23 This figure was generated through a review of DEVB press releases published online (http://www.devb.gov.hk/en/publications_and_press_releases/press/index.html). Press releases on specific issues may be isolated using a keyword search. Among those on the topic of heritage conservation were announcements or reports of seventeen international trips. As heritage overlaps with other issues, it is possible that the number is higher. This figure does not include local travel within the Hong Kong territory. 123 Trust in which adaptive reuse of historic buildings was discussed (DEVB, 2010). The Trust shared with Mrs. Lam their experiences of managing an incentive fund to encourage the conservation of privately owned heritage buildings of interest to the public. Lam was also given a tour of the Old Government Building, home to the Faculty of Law for Victoria University. Constructed in 1876, it is claimed to be one of the world’s largest wooden office buildings (Wellington Local Government, 2014). Visits to Scandinavia, Macau, Singapore, Seoul, Guangzhou, Paris, Melbourne, London, Tokyo and equally far-flung destinations featured similar itineraries of site visits, meetings with heritage experts, planners and bureaucrats to discuss policies, programmes, architecture, urban redevelopment, and “greening”, and additional courtesy visits with overseas Chinese media, representatives of trade offices and other groups with connections to China. The issue of heritage buildings under private ownership discussed with the Historic Places Trust in New Zealand is of particular interest in Hong Kong where ownership rights appear to inalienably include the possibility of generating surplus value through redevelopment (Tang, 2008). Very few privately owned properties are on the list of declared monuments and among those with historical grades, the guarantee of protection is minimal and the possibility of demolition omnipresent. King Yin Lei mansion at 45 Stubbs Road on the western slope of Happy Valley is an exemplary case. The building, constructed in 1937, is considered one of Hong Kong’s best examples of a hybrid of Chinese décor and Western construction but it was not provided statutory protection as a monument because it was privately owned. The property’s zoning was residential and did not include heritage protection among possible land uses. In the late 1990s and early 2000s there were discussions among planners about the possibility of amending the zoning in order to grant the possibility of heritage protection, but no action was 124 taken (personal interview, 19 May, 2010). In 2004 the owner announced plans to demolish the building but rescinded when the Conservancy Association, a long-established environmental NGO, launched a campaign to raise public awareness and support for its conservation (Smart & Lam, 2009). The Conservancy Association offered a symbolic bid of 6 million dollars (the property was valued at more than $400 million), planning to raise this amount by asking for a contribution of one Hong Kong Dollar from each Hong Kong resident (Lau, 2004). An offer to sell the property to the government was refused due to prohibitive costs and it was instead sold to Ice Wisdom Limited, an off-shore shell company registered in the British Virgin Islands, for 430 million HKD (Li, 2007). This anonymous new owner, quite possibly a major player in Hong Kong real estate but not identified by name, then began to remove the building’s ornaments, an initial step towards demolition and the eventual construction of a luxury townhouse development. This occurred shortly after the Piers protests during a time when there was extensive media coverage leading to new and widespread public scrutiny of heritage issues. Carrie Lam, newly appointed, intervened on behalf of the government with a stop-work order and awarded the structure temporary monument status (Wong, 2007). A resolution was reached with the offer of an adjoining piece of land, zoned for the townhouse development, in exchange for the transfer of the building, newly zoned for heritage purposes and restored, to public ownership. King Yin Lei received the permanent monument status on 11 July, 2008. Despite the solution reached at King Yin Lei, and a handful of similar cases involving privately-owned properties, the government does not have a comprehensive set of standards for encouraging or forcing private owners to conserve heritage structures (Information Services Department, HKSAR, 2011). Treating such cases on an ad hoc basis carries tremendous financial risks. The possibility exists that other owners of historic buildings could approach the DEVB 125 with similar, potentially costly, demands. While King Yin Lei is trumpeted as an example of the Hong Kong government’s willingness to engage with private owners of heritage properties, it has not resulted in a solid strategy. Thus, when Carrie Lam learned about the incentive programme at the Historic Places Trust in New Zealand three years after the controversy over King Yin Lei, it was with a view to recent events in Hong Kong. Likewise, attention paid to the reuse of historic buildings in Shanghai for creative purposes and the interest in conserving significant public buildings in New York’s landscape of vertical density were directly related to ongoing discussions back home. While it is not clear how the knowledge and comparative frames generated in Lam’s travels are put to use in Hong Kong, it is important to recognize the relational geography of the policy learning process as a way of challenging the sedentarist assumptions that underpin theorizations of heritage, as outlined in Chapter 2. 5.1 A Relational Politics of Heritage Policy Learning in Hong Kong This chapter and the next build upon the contextual discussion of Chapter 3 by examining the recent challenges to and reassessment of heritage policy in Hong Kong through a relational lens. The interest is in understanding how connections forged and enacted between Hong Kong and other places have influenced the way heritage is discussed and policy trajectories formulated in the territory. These connections involve communication, travel and other forms of mobility of people, knowledge, capital and other material and immaterial resources, embedded in and extending beyond the bounds of the state. Chapter 6 examines the role of returnees and travelers in rethinking the meaning of Hong Kong as “home” and the place of heritage in this construction. The current chapter highlights forms of mobility more directly related to policy, particularly an understudied aspect of the urban policy-making process: learning. The emphasis is on learning activities that occur through formal, institutional channels involving politicians, 126 heritage experts, bureaucrats and civil servants. Temenos and McCann (2012, p. 1394) write that teaching and learning – the production of policy knowledge – involve “a politics of persuasion and coalition-building in and through which long-term and effective consensus is established over the definition of key problems and specific rationalities and technologies through which problems will be addressed.” It is argued here that learning about heritage policy and practice in other places is undertaken so as to better make decisions that respond to the unique circumstances in Hong Kong. It is shown, however, that the learning process is highly politicized, motivated by ideologies shaped by entrepreneurialism and competitiveness. Although the Hong Kong situation animates the policy learning process, the process itself is constrained by an underlying neoliberal politics. In spite of the challenges posed by protests and widespread public desires for greater heritage protection, especially for places of everyday heritage, the government has chosen to retain the policy outlined in the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. Nevertheless, an extensive process of policy learning has taken place within government departments, among civil servants and agents peripheral to the state but that may be understood as quasi-state actors. The response to heritage as a policy issue has thus been “extrospective”, meaning outward looking (McCann, 2011a; McCann, 2012). The policy tools and knowledge necessary to effectively address the situation did not exist in Hong Kong, hence the government, with the assistance of a variety of sources, has sought to learn from elsewhere to fill the gaps. However, the unique political, economic and cultural conditions in the territory mean that there are no off-the-shelf solutions. Notably, the lease-hold land administration system established by the colonial government in the 1840s persists, implicating revenues from the auction of land to developers in 127 the provision of public services24. In this system, that has led to what Haila (2000) has termed a “property state”, the prospect of reserving parts of the built environment as “heritage” is not easily realized (Cuthbert, 1984). The response is also “extrospective” in another sense related to image-making. The Hong Kong government is developing a place brand as “Asia’s World City” and heritage, among other forms of cultural hardware and software, figures in this construction (Kong, 2007). While policymakers approach heritage with a spirit of economic pragmatism, the NGOs and community groups that brought the issue to the attention of the government and public are concerned foremost with protecting local communities in the places they depend upon for their continued existence. As discussed in Chapter 2, urban policy-making in the “global age” is as much about emulating successful models from other places as it is about responding to local needs and dynamics (McCann & Ward, 2011). Urban scholars have begun to study policy mobilities in order to better understand urbanism and urbanization under the conditions of global capitalism. While the interest in the circulation of models of urbanism and planning is not new (King, 1984; Masser et al., 1986; Saunier, 1999), the post-structural and critical tenor of the recent work is, and has opened new horizons. New work asks how mobility has become intrinsic to policy-making, but also poses questions about the political implications of relational urbanism in an era of entrenched neoliberalism (Peck, 2006; Ward, 2006). Work by researchers in North America and Great Britain has advocated attending to the seemingly mundane details of the policy-making process, evident in meetings, conferences and in the travels of bureaucrats, consultants and experts (González, 2010). Policy diffusion popularized by political scientists has been much 24 For an account of the establishment of the lease hold system see Endacott (1958). In the early years revenue from land rent was central to establishing the British visions of law and order (Scott, 1989, p. 54). 128 criticized (Peck, 2011) and current thinking encourages researchers to go beyond instances of transfer and to understand the politics that underpin the selection and mutation of policy models. Assemblage has emerged as the concept de rigueur (McCann, 2011a). Still, however, in much research the focus remains on policy models and best practices and questions of transfer and diffusion remain implicit. Privileging of evidence of actually-existing policy presences, warns Jacobs (2012, p. 148), may “feed universalizing narratives of same-ing and… position some cities as command centres (exporters of ideas) and others as passive receivers and imitators.” Even where policies themselves are not transferred, policy-making and learning is still a productive process. As Kong et al (2006, p. 175-6, following Yapa, 1977) argue in their study of the diffusion of creative industry policies in Asia, non-adoption should not be equated with disinterest, but must be properly contextualized. In Hong Kong, the failure to overhaul the heritage policy in favour of a model from another jurisdiction is a result of local constraints. The process of learning from elsewhere, with learning understood as a taken-for-granted aspect of urbanism, is still important. For McFarlane, (2011, p. 361) “learning is a process of potential transformation… It is more th
UBC Theses and Dissertations
A relational geography of heritage in post-1997 Hong Kong Barber, Lachlan 2014
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