Writing the Historical Self— Fiction, Artifacts and the Making of History in Dung Kai-cheung’s Works and Creation: Vivid and Lifelike

Dr. Chao Long4

4Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China

The turbulent social context in Hong Kong over the last decade has time and again directed people’s attention to the city’s increasingly fraught relationship with mainland China. What remains deeply problematic at its core is arguably the unsorted relationship between the localism in Hong Kong, Chinese nationalism and Western imperialism borne out of colonialism. In light of this, this paper argues for an understanding of how local literary production can generate a decolonizing impetus that will hopefully inspire an alternative approach to matters of Hong Kong’s coloniality and its connection to the mainland. This is done by looking into local writer Dung Kai-cheung’s 2005 novel Works and Creation: Vivid and Lifelike, in which Dung interrogates how the knowledge of self is historically created within networks of power. My analysis focuses on how Dung purposefully constructs a way of writing history revolving around thirteen modern artifacts that collectively have helped to shape generations’ identity in the city. Such a way of remembering the past, as told through the narrator’s single point of view, thus draws attention not only to the deficiencies of existing historical discourse but also to the discursive nature of what is often considered as a dialogical connection between the past and the present. Despite written at the beginning years of the 21st Century, Works proves to be an insightful source, as this paper ultimately tries to demonstrate, to turn to in the long run of Hong Kong’s continuous decolonizing effort.


Long Chao obtained his Ph.D. from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore in 2019. His doctoral thesis studies Hong Kong fiction under the framework of Sinophone studies in which he looks at Chinese- and English-language fictional works written by local writers through a comparative lens. He is currently taking up a post-doctoral position in the School of English Studies at Shanghai International Studies University. His post-doctoral research project involves a further exploration of the theoretical vitality of Sinophonicity, especially centering on the comparative studies of Shanghai and Hong Kong literature.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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