The Newsletter 96 Autumn 2023

IBP 2023 Best Article on Global Hong Kong Studies

Total submissions: 106 Articles (50 Humanities and 56 Social Sciences)

Organizing Institute: Society for Hong Kong Studies
Secretary: John Carroll
Acting Secretary: Mayda Chan
Reading Committee Members: Angelina Chin, Leo Shin and Michael Ng (Humanities); Agnes Ku, Alan Smart and Ian Scott (Social Sciences)
Sponsor of the IBP 2023 Hong Kong Article Prize: Society for Hong Kong Studies



IBP 2023 Winner - Social Sciences

AUTHOR: Maurice Yip

TITLE: New town planning as diplomatic planning: Scalar politics, British–Chinese relations, and Hong Kong. Journal of Urban History 48(2), 2022: 361-380

The article by Maurice Yip offers an original, insightful, and intriguing interpretation of the planning and development of Tin Shui Wai new town against the backdrop of Sino-British diplomacy. It not only fills our knowledge gap regarding Hong Kong’s political history in the few years between Governor MacLehose’s visit to Beijing in 1979 and the beginning of Sino-British negotiations in 1982, a period that has often been overlooked. It also sheds a profoundly new light on how local urban development engages with scalar politics, and vice versa, in the unique context of Hong Kong. Through a meticulous examination of archival materials, the author debunks common misunderstandings and uncovers how actors at different spatial scales attempted to sort out the ways to handle the question of Hong Kong’s future under the conditions of imperfect information and shifting power relations. The article has opened a new door to the study of Hong Kong history.

IBP 2023 Winner - Humanities

AUTHOR: Carmen C. M. Tsui

TITLE: Housing the nascent middle class: The first high-rise planned community in post-war Hong Kong. Planning Perspectives 37(4), 2022: 735–759

Tsui’s fascinating case study of Mei Foo Sun Chuen as a form of new planned housing in the 1960s and 1970s shows convincingly how a mega-scale residential development became the modern ideal for the middle class. It reveals how the middle class in Hong Kong imagined how their life could become in a period of rapid economic development.

IBP 2023 Social Sciences Shortlist

Katherine Whitworth and Yao-Tai Li, “Visual framing: The use of COVID-19 in the mobilization of Hong Kong Protest,” The China Quarterly, no. 253, 2023: 19-34

This article by Whitworth and Li brings innovative methods to provide insights into the mobilization of protest in Hong Kong. The methods of rigorously analyzing posts on Lennon Walls offers useful possibilities for research, especially when interviewing is constrained, as during COVID-19. These analyses are then considered through a combination of social semiotics and social movement theory. In concrete terms, they found that COVID-19 had provided fertile ground for mobilizing critique of the local and central governments. The findings include fascinating examples of framing critique in innovative ways to take advantage of current events to offer novel criticism of ongoing concerns. Their work indicates the importance of bringing together social semiotics and social movement theory. 


Ngai Keung Chan and Chi Kwok, “Guerilla capitalism and the platform economy: Governing Uber in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong,” Information, Communication & Society 24(6), 2021: 780-796

Derived from the varieties of capitalism approach, the authors develop an original comparative framework based on the concept of guerilla capitalism. They demonstrate how a firm operating in a legally-unclear regulatory area can exert pressure on governments to attempt to prevent the introduction of new, potentially disadvantageous, regulatory measures. The comparative framework enables the authors to show differences in the types of pressure exerted depending on the nature of the regime. This opens up possibilities for further research on firms, such as Uber, that seek to exploit regulatory loopholes in their competition with businesses operating within an established regulatory framework.


Samson Yuen, “The institutional foundation of countermobilization: Elites and pro-regime grassroots organizations in post-handover Hong Kong,” Government and Opposition 58(2), 2023: 316-337

This excellent study explores linkages between center and locality in the use of countermobilization strategies and how these linkages are maintained in Hong Kong through the appointment of local elites to the Chinese People’s Consultative Committee. The author describes the number and organization of countermobilization protests and petitions up until 2019. Using statistical analysis, he shows how the protest organizers were rewarded with appointments to higher positions. The article makes a significant contribution to an understanding of how authoritarian leaders can build a grassroots base of support through patronage, an area that has not been widely or sufficiently examined in the literature.


Tommy Tse, “Work faster, harder, cheaper? Global, local and sectoral co-configurations of job insecurities among Hong Kong creative workers,” Critical Sociology 48(7-8), 2022: 1141-1167.

Creative work as a distinctive form of labor has been undergoing precarization worldwide. The article by Tommy Tse presents a brilliant attempt to unpack and theorize the multi-faceted nature of job insecurity in the cultural and creative industries in Hong Kong at the intersections of global, local and sectoral forces. It adopts a pluralist epistemological approach that taps the concrete and subjective experiences among the creative workers as well as examines their divergent responses to job insecurities. The analysis presents a nuanced, holistic and densely contextualized understanding of job insecurity in the industries. This is a highly commendable piece of work that contributes significantly to the scholarship on labor, precarity, and creative work.


IBP 2023 Humanities Shortlist

Allan T. F. Pang, “Stamping ‘imagination and sensibility’: Objects, culture, and governance in late colonial Hong Kong,” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 50(4), 2022: 789-816

In this fascinating article, Allan Pang examines how colonial officials ‘preserved’ local culture to preserve loyalty and trust towards the British regime. By creating and selling stamps and coins that featured Chinese festivals and customs, colonial officials tried to project an image of a caring government. Pang convincingly draws readers’ attention from the high diplomacy of colonialism to everyday colonialism in Hong Kong history. He shows that in addition to violence, discrimination and repression, there are a lot more ‘soft’ skills of colonial governance which are equally impactful that await discovery.


Eunice Seng, “Working women and architectural work: Hong Kong 1945-1985,” Aggregate, 2022,

Eunice Seng, in this unprecedented archive-building work, maps the role of women in the architectural and construction industries of post-war Hong Kong. Drawing on a variety of records, including colonial records and industry journals, Seng meticulously studies how working women were defined, described, and represented in colonial public institutions where inequality was inbuilt and normalized. This article puts forward new narratives and uncovers new archival materials that will provide a very significant foundation for future research in studying the patriarchy of Hong Kong’s post-war economic development.


John D. Wong, “Making Vitasoy ‘local’ in post-WWII Hong Kong: Traditionalizing modernity, engineering progress, nurturing aspirations,” Business History Review 95(2), 2021: 275-300

In this well-researched and wide-ranging essay, John Wong uses Vitasoy, a well-known soy-based drink, to weave together a story that touches on the discourse on modern nutritional science, technological and business transformations, the power of marketing, as well as the sociocultural changes associated with the economic growth in postwar Hong Kong. In so doing, Wong not only offers an insightful analysis of how an individual company was able to take advantage of both structural changes and particular contingencies to advance its business, but also provides a convincing argument about how important – in fact, vital – ‘foreign’ ingredients have been in the success of a seemingly ‘local’ beverage.


Vivien Chan, “Markets made modular: Constructing the modern ‘wet’ market in Hong Kong's public housing estates, 1969–1975,” Urban History: 1-19,

Vivien Chan’s article traces the development of modular wet markets in Hong Kong from the 1960s to the 1970s. It reveals the colonial ideas of health, food hygiene, and social and spatial order against the bigger architectural and social trends of modularization in spatial and building design. It also examines the exciting competition and negotiation among the Chinese hawkers and colonial officials regarding the limit of ‘wetness’ in an orderly and hygienic market, reflecting the colonial vision of spatial and social disciplining in a modernized society. It makes a significant contribution not only to the social history but also to the architectural history of colonial Hong Kong.