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Michael Yat-him TSANG

My Background

I am now a one-year Research Associate in Japanese Studies at Newcastle University, under the AHRC-funded project, 'Gendering Murakami Haruki'. Previously, I obtained my doctorate in English and Comparative Literary Studies from Warwick in 2015. Prior to Warwick, I completed my BA in English (2009) and MPhil in Gender Studies (2011) at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

My research interests are postcolonial and world literature theory, gender theory and East Asian literature. I specialise in Hong Kong English writing, which is the topic of my PhD. I am one of the founding editors of Hong Kong Studies, the world's only bilingual academic journal specifically devoted to Hong Kong.

I also specialise in Japanese literature. The latter is reflected from my current project at Newcastle and also my MPhil thesis titled "'Why are we set in this world?' - Gender Representation in Murakami Haruki's Novels", which examines three of Murakami's novels [Norwegian Wood (1987), Sputnik Sweetheart (1999), After Dark (2004)] using psychoanalytic gender theories.

I am staff reviewer at Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, where I have established an extensive profile of reviews of Asian literature (see "Literary Reviews" under publications).

A speaker of five languages (Cantonese, English, Mandarin, Japanese and French), I have an immense interest in intercultural communication and linguistics, especially contrastive phonology, accent acquisition and third language acquisition. I write fiction and poetry in my spare time.

Visit my publications page.

My PhD Research Project

My PhD, awarded with no correction, was titled "At Interregnum: Hong Kong and its English Writing". The recent Umbrella Revolution has drawn the world’s attention to Hong Kong’s neo-colonial situation, where it is sandwiched in a number of interregna, such as between the postcolonial and the neo-colonial, or between ex-coloniser Britain and current coloniser China. This unique postcoloniality of Hong Kong—that it has money but no independence—is seldom addressed in postcolonial (literary) studies. The situation is further complicated when one considers the state of English writing, given the invisibility and neglect it receives worldwide and among the Hong Kong population, who only recognises the pragmatic value of English. Nevertheless, the Umbrella Revolution has also provided a crucial opportunity to reconsider how Hong Kong culture can contemplate the past and articulate the future of the city, a project undertaken in this dissertation.

Believing that it is high time Hong Kong English writing emerged as a distinct literary voice, this dissertation asks how English writing should be positioned amidst, and help to move forward, Hong Kong’s various interregna. It evaluates the opportunities and the challenges facing the formation of an English writing community in Hong Kong, drawing inspirations from Pascale Casanova’s vision of a world literary space that is fraught with struggles and competition, and Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural, symbolic and other forms of capital. The recommendations made in this dissertation to develop English writing further share the common idea that Hong Kong English writing should “turn and look inwards” as much as it should present itself as international and cosmopolitan. The main recommendations are: the need to develop committed and dedicated publication avenues for emerging English-language writers and students from Hong Kong, and the need to develop new analytical paradigms that represent the rich layers of social reality and lived experiences across fault lines of class and geographical segregation in Hong Kong.



Yat-him TSANG

PhD (Warwick);
MPhil, BA (Hons I.) (CUHK)