DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Word and Image for the next advance

Written by: on June 11, 2015

Kam Louie’s book, “Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image” is timely since it will not be long before I will be boarding an air buses to Hong Kong. In many ways, Louie’s work seems like a reputation course since I have close friends who currently live in Hong Kong and have given me many crash course about the culture in Hong Kong. Louie introduces his work and collection of essays on Hong Kong’s culture with a question:

What is Hong Kong culture? Anyone who has been to Hong Kong before and after 1997 would know that when it belonged to Britain, Hong Kong culture was not really British, and now that the former colony is part of China, its culture is not exactly Chinese either. It is a cliché to say that Hong Kong today benefits from the economic growth in China, without the political restrictions the rest of China has to operate under. [1]

Louie’s approach to explicating Hong Kong culture from history’s perspective is refreshing as opposed to an attempt to interpret culture only from an artificial grid. It is usually the cause that people make culture and culture can also make people. Louie captures such a dynamic already in his theme of “word and image”. Louie notes:

… Our conception of “word” and “image” also includes visual culture, such as protest art, and architecture. In so doing we recognize that “words” and “images” are products of particular localities and spatial contexts as well as the intellect and emotions. … Whether measured in demographic, political, economic or cultural terms. There is, quite simply, nowhere else like Hong Kong; so it is no surprise that the cultural products of this unique locality are imbued with a uniquely Hong Kong flavor.[2]

I highly agree with Louie’s well rounded view of Hong Kong’s cultural landscape because without a panoptic paradigm to a people’ culture, one is bound to miss the breadth and complexities of culture. The complexities and contradictions that are often observed in cultures around the world are necessary for the appreciation and respect for culture. That which is both simple and difficult about culture can help a person appreciate certain contexts even to the extent of embracing a humble attitude. I appreciate Louie ability to deploy diverse voices in the research element of the book and thus the authors’ successful portrayal of the diversity of Hong Kong’s culture. According to the Louie the “ … contributors are Hong Kong-born Chinese as well as long-term residents of Hong Kong from Scotland, England, the United States, Italy and Australia. This diverse group held a wide variety of opinions about Hong Kong’s culture but it became clear that they all regarded it as a multifaceted, polyphonic culture that resists easy homogenization”[3]

Louis’ approach is one way to avoid a one size fits all outlooks towards culture.  It is necessary to consider various points of view and that’s a positive way to learn about culture.

 

[1] Kam, Louie, Hong Kong Culture Word and Image. (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010), 1.

[2] Ibid.,2.

[3] Ibd.,

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

6 responses to “Word and Image for the next advance”

  1. Michael,

    Thanks for your early post. I hope things are going well in Uganda.

    You say, “The complexities and contradictions that are often observed in cultures around the world are necessary for the appreciation and respect for culture. That which is both simple and difficult about culture can help a person appreciate certain contexts even to the extent of embracing a humble attitude.” This is well stated. “Complexities” and “contradictions” are certainly apparent in every culture, especially if one is from a different culture. I think it sometimes takes time to come to a point of “appreciation” and “respect,” especially if another culture is vastly different than one’s own. The humble attitude is where we each need to be eventually. It is through humble eyes that we can see clearly, once we rid ourselves of the ethnocentrism we each possess.

    I look forward to sharing stories on your return. I will have much to share as well from my time on the Lakota reservation. Also, I look forward to telling stories with our cohort while in Hong Kong. It is hard to believe that our Advance is right around the corner.

  2. mm John Woodward says:

    Michael, you did a great job of capturing both the book and the complex culture of Hong Kong. Having “zero” knowledge of this part of the world, I found this book of essays a tremendous primer to this world that is truly “multifaceted, polyphonic culture that resists easy homogenization”! As you mentioned, that we need to be sensitive to the cultures we visit, this book at least makes me aware that there is a whole lot going on under the surface (its past, its future, its complex mix of cultures and ethnicities), that quick assumptions or first impressions should be taken with a grain of salt. It sets me up to better listen and absolve, to question and learn!

    Looking forward to fellowshipping with you there very soon!

  3. Michael, so true the things that you pulled out of the book. I marvel at the complexity that Hong Kong is as a cultural haven for so much intermingling that this very intermingling of cultures has produced a culture of its own. As Louie said “it is a confluence of various cultures from around the world.”

    I too look forward to fellowshipping with you and this intriguing part of the world as we finalize our program together. Your brother from another mother, Mitch.

  4. mm Ashley Goad says:

    Michael, cam you believe this is our last post?! And how good of you to post early and give us something to think about. (Side note: I hope you are doing well in Uganda!)

    I loved your concluding sentence – Louis’ approach is one way to avoid a one size fits all outlooks towards culture. It is necessary to consider various points of view and that’s a positive way to learn about culture.

    How tempting is it to stereotype or give the “one size fits all” view? I loved how Louis intertwined so many points of view from so many authors. They each gave their own perceptions, which proved Louis’ theory that there is not a consistent, across the board, culture of Hong Kong. I can’t wait to get there and see for myself what Hong Kong and its people are like. A whole new world!

    Peace, friend. Happy Father’s Day!

  5. mm Deve Persad says:

    Michael,

    You have a great ability to understand the complexities of the global flavours that present themselves to us. Your experience, and your relationships add value to the subjects that we have been learning over these last two years. You model the idea of looking at life from different points of view. Thanks for helping to shape my thinking.

    I look forward to what Hong Kong will bring and to connecting with you once again!

  6. Michael…
    Reading through your post I thought about how we have in some ways come full circle. One of our first readings was centered in visual and sensory ethnography and now you have reminded us, “without a panoptic paradigm to a people’ culture, one is bound to miss the breadth and complexities of culture. The complexities and contradictions that are often observed in cultures around the world are necessary for the appreciation and respect for culture.”

    Our program has invested us in going beyond and beneath the casual summaries or cultural stereotypes. You’ve reminded me to apply what we have studied and learned together into our final advance (as well as our dissertation work :).

    Thank you for your insights during these past two years. Grateful for you…

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