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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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Appendix: A Chronology of the Emplotment ofHistorical Events in Intellectual Narratives 231

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231 APPENDIX A Chronology of the Emplotment of Historical Events in Intellectual Narratives 1. 1788–1789: Emperor Qian-long waged wars against Vietnam (Annam). The usurped Le family sought refuge from the Qing Dynasty; Qian- long responded swiftly by sending troops to Vietnam, but was driven back to his south-western borders. The territorial control of the Qing Dynasty was called into question.1 2. 1966–1976: The Cultural Revolution was launched by Mao Tze-tung, who mobilized the ‘Red Guards’ to paralyze government agencies, the military and the universities and to force his rival Liao Shao-qi, and later Lin Biao, to step down. Many were traumatized during the Cultural Revolution as a result of their experiences of joining the Red Guards and engaging in all sorts of humiliations, such as public con- demnations and physical violence towards seniors and professors.2 3. 1966: A hunger strike by a man who protested against a fare increase on the Star Ferry triggered riots from 4–9 April; the riots were accom- panied by a series of demonstrations, marches and street violence.3 4. The year 1968 was the bedrock of global student movements against the Soviet military’s entry into Czechoslovakia, the Vietnam War and western capitalism. With the contemporary example of ‘hippies’, stu- dents in Hong Kong became fully aware of their role in the historical conjuncture of colonial rule and politics.4 5. In 1970, the US announced its plan to return Okinawa to Japan together with the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, which were part of Taiwan in...

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