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Intellectual Narratives

Theory, History and Self-Characterization of Social Margins in Public Writings

Alex Ching-Shing Chan

This book aims to study the intellectual lives of three Hong Kong intellectuals by narrating their lives as self-reflections on theories related to social margins. Drawing on insights from Paul Ricoeur, Hannah Arendt and Zygmunt Bauman, the author analyses their narratives through in-depth interviews. Their stories point to an interpretative understanding of the works they had cursorily read when creating their historical narrations of Hong Kong from the 1970s to 2003. These stories of individual intellectuals, together with their interpretations of what they have individually read about various western theories, challenge theoretical prescriptions of historical contingent events in their narration. Such narration unfolds self-characterizations of intellectuals the author interviewed, and represents a neglected social marginal which demands that immediate attention in the public through their intellectual writings.

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List of Tables vi Preface vii Acknowledgements ix 1. Introduction: Intellectual Narratives as Historical Inquires and Life Refl ections 1 2. A Genealogy of Social Theory on Intellectuals 21 3. The Narrativist Turn and the Historical Construction of Intellectual Self 37 4. Analysing and Defending Intellectual Narratives 61 5. Readings and Struggles: Hermeneutics of Suspicion in the Social Context of Intellectual Life 81 6. Emplotment, or Refl ection on History, and Intellectual Self 99 7. Plots or Distinctive Personal Characters Acting for the Social Margins 121 8. Public Writings of Local Intellectuals – The Narrative Completion 153 9. Conclusion 179 References 203 Appendix: A Chronology of the Emplotment of Historical Events in Intellectual Narratives 231 Index 235 v vi List of Tables 1. A Comparison of the Emplotment, Narration and Plotted Characters in the Narratives of Three Intellectuals 151 2. Self-Characters in the Intellectual Narratives and Public Writings of Three Intellectuals 177

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