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Maggie Leung

Supervisors: Dr. Susan Haedicke & Dr. Margaret Shewring

Research title: Performing the Right to the City: Ballroom Dancing and Hong Kong City Landscape

My research aims at unfolding the layers of Hong Kong city landscape shaped by and around Ballroom dancing to show the exercise of the right to the city through various forms of collective performance of the dance. The dancing bodies, at different time in different spaces defined by and defining different aesthetics, inscribe their ephemeral existence in everyday life and routine into the concrete structure of the dance venues in city; when the dance takes place, it makes the place, too. Embodied, appropriated, capitalized and transformed by different bodies and forces, the local dance tradition and practices produce layers of landscapes overlapping and contesting.

The illustration of the forming of the dance landscape in Hong Kong is, first of all, an alternate history of the city in which the local is restored as the agency in the making of the city and its history. Formerly ruled by Britain and now with its sovereignty 'handed-over' to China, Hong Kong is often imagined and narrated in terms of and relations to the two powers. This research is an effort to contribute to the development of local discourse in Hong Kong that makes the rendering of collective local experiences possible. Instead of putting the project under a post-colonial framework which would, again, situates Hong Kong 'between colonizers' (Rey Chow), the pro-active approach of the exercise of the right to the city is chosen to narrate the formation of Hong Kong as a unique cultural entity.

My research interests include cultural history, everyday practices, city spaces and aesthetics. I am an unapologetic fan of philosopher Alain Badiou. Apart from Badiou's philosophy, ballroom dancing is my other source of hope and inspiration.