"Map Narratives: space as virtual and material history, HK cinema 1934"

Map Narratives: space as virtual and material history, HK cinema 1934. Paper delivered at "Reflexions," an International Seminar on Film, Literature, and Culture, University of Delhi, India, March 2004

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This essays deals with my reasoning process in search of ways to approach a moment of Hong Kong cinema that has escaped serious treatment in writing. The project began as a quest for an absent history for pre-war Hong Kong cinema, finally re-defined as a one-year study, the slicing of 1934, itself an attempt to gain the first sights and sounds of the material existence in a year of no significance in dominant historical discourses. My pursuit immediately calls upon problems that have underpinned historiographic practices, such as questions of narrative realism, the neglect of space in history-writing, what comprises historical significance, and how to free the writing object Hong Kong from the burden of discursive practices that did not grow out of the local situation of Hong Kong. The quest for my tactics, which I call “spatial realism” in historiography, is deliberately structured in the following as a series of contemplation. On the theoretical level, I have sought dialogues with well known theses advanced by Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, Judith Butler and Michel Foucault. Each section is a self-sufficient discussion, yet generative of the next chain of thoughts. These independent expositions together form my argument for the productiveness of a spatial approach to film history and history in general, as well as detailed prescriptions for research and analysis.