Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

In Search

Written by: on June 17, 2015

In his book entitled, “Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image”, editor Kam Louie assembles an intriguing mosaic of a little city with a larger than life identity.  Nicknamed “the City of Life”, Hong Kong is a city of juxtaposed make-up and landscape.  From mountains to seas, from communism to capitalism, and from “east” to “west”, Hong Kong is a tidal pool of cultural currents. In Louie’s own description of his created collage, “Taken together, these essays consistently alert us to one key phenomenon: that present-day Hong Kong culture is fascinating because it is a confluence of various cultures from around the world.”[1]

Initially, a larger than life identity seems attractive and is a definite part of the intrigue of the little global city, yet after further exposure the complexity created by the confluence of culture begins to create an identity search that becomes quite cumbersome.  In David Clarke’s chapter entitled, “The Haunted City: Hong Kong and Its Urban Others” a concern is articulated for the tension created.  “While for the most part I have been talking here of the haunting of Hong Kong by other cities as an anxiety creeping through official discourse that  would prefer us to read it as self-confdent in tone, and concerned with  uniqueness rather than with mimicry and influence … “[2]  Through Clarke’s chapter and numerous other chapters in Louie’s work,  a sense of not only of identity intrigue sets in but additionally a sense of identity crisis.

The identity crisis of Hong Kong could be viewed as that of a middle child.  With China as the older sibling and Britain as the youngest, all of the good, bad, and of ugly of each is relentlessly compared to what Hong Kong was and wasn’t, is and isn’t, and will and won’t be.  Louie speaks of such a view as translational space, “In this shaky geopolitical terrain, Hong Kong found its firm cultural ground and became a translation space where Chinese-ness was interpreted for “Westerners” and Western-ness was translated for Chinese.”[3]  And while it sounds solid, it is truly a liminal space of a cultural identity emergence.

As I prepare for the LGP5 Advance in Hong Kong, I hope to be able to arrive in Hong Kong in search the apparent “peaceable space” created of mountain meets sea, communism meets capitalism, and “east” meets “west” and see the true identity of a new landscape, a new politic, and a new people emerging with great influence in our world.  I am amazed at the learning lab this will be for so much that we have read about and have been exposed to through the course of this first year of class.  I count my self incredibly blessed and am grateful to have the opportunity for this kind of opportunity in my life.  I hope to experience an ethnographic journey that really sees, tastes, hears, smells, and feels the culture of Hong Kong and all that it offers to us on our journey of leadership and true global perspectives.

1 Kam Louie, Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010), 7, accessed June 13, 2015, http://ebooks.hkupress.org/pdfreader/hong-kong-culture.

2 Ibid. Louie, 50.

3 Ibid. Louie, 2.

About the Author

Phillip Struckmeyer

10 responses to “In Search”

  1. Jon Spellman says:

    “The identity crisis of Hong Kong could be viewed as that of a middle child. With China as the older sibling and Britain as the youngest, all of the good, bad, and of ugly of each is relentlessly compared to what Hong Kong was and wasn’t, is and isn’t, and will and won’t be.”

    I like the sibling comparison, although it seems that both China and Britain are older. Younger siblings are always wrestling with trying to compete “up” to the older but its a competition they can never win so inferiority continuously presses in on them.

  2. Brian Yost says:

    Reading your post, the phrase “communism meets capitalism” really stood out to me. Growing up during the Cold War, we were taught that communism and capitalism were mortal enemies. As a kid, I remember my history teacher telling us that Hong Kong would be returned to China (of course 1997 seemed like a date so far into the future that it was hard to imagine). I don’t think many of us could have pictured the melding of communism and capitalism that has happened in Hong Kong.

    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      I had similar thoughts. Today, my children are growing up in a world where China is viewed as an economic stronghold, creating a bit of fear. I’d imagine that many Americans wouldn’t articulate Hong Kong as being any different than mainland China. Yet, your picture of communism and capitalism, together in one city, provides a much different vision and understanding.

  3. Nick Martineau says:

    Phil…I agree with whatever else is posting. I found your comment on “communism meets capitalism” to be a really good image. I’m wondering if we will feel that tension whie there. How western will HK actually feel? Or maybe it will feel very western? I’m thankful I’ll be getting a couple days in mainland before going to HK to understand what that tension is really like. It’s hard for me to understand just by reading book. It will be fun to be there together.

  4. Mary Pandiani says:

    Your post, especially expressing your gratitude for the experience we will be able to have in September, made me realize that Louie’s book: Word and Image lacks one more piece – Experience. Something happens to us when we live into a place, smell it, see it, feel it, touch it, even taste it. We’re never the same – at least that’s what I experienced with Cape Town. I remember when I taught Geography to High Schoolers (not usually anyone’s favorite subject), and I had the hardest time having students connect unless they had actually been there.
    I too am grateful for our program – we will never be the same.

    • Phillip Struckmeyer says:


    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      Agree! We will never be the same – in a good way… Just as I know that the Lord brought us all into this program, I know that He has a plan for each of us while in HK. It will be fun to see how our global experiences contribute to the greater journey that He has for each of us.

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