From Hygienic Modernity to Green Modernity: Two Modes of Modern Living in Hong Kong Since the 1970s

09 Jun 2022 04.30 PM - 06.00 PM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Florence Mok

This talk focuses on Hong Kong’s processes of modernization through the histories of urban sanitation and environmental governance. In tracing the genealogy of “hygienic modernity” and “green modernity”, this talk examines two modes of modern living whereby techniques of governmentality and technologies of the self are employed to transform Hong Kong into a clean, eco-friendly, and modern cosmopolitan since the 1970s. Focusing on the “Keep Hong Kong Clean” campaign, I discuss how the colonial government had endeavoured to transform Hong Kong into a metropolis of modern hygienic standards, and to what extend this campaign forged a sense of belonging and civic responsibility while instilling a rudimentary understanding of waanbao (environmental protection) into the minds of Hong Kong citizens. In conclusion, I explore the contestation between hygienic modernity and green modernity after the 2000s. I contend that, instead of replacing one another, these two modes of modern living are mutually shaping each others’ approaches to how urban environment should be managed. Despite their differences, both undertakings have reinforced Hong Kong people’s sense of civic responsibility and devotion to the city that they call home.

Speaker's bio: Loretta Lou is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of Macau. She received her DPhil in Anthropology from the University of Oxford (2017) and worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Warwick (2017-2018) before joining the UM in 2019. Her research interests lie in the areas of environment, health, and activism in East Asia. She is the Joint Editor-in-Chief of Worldwide Waste: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies and Editor in Asian Studies for Amsterdam University Press. She is currently writing her first book Green Living and Social Transformation: Embodied Politics in Postcolonial Hong Kong, which is under contract with the University of Washington Press.