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Book Talk Series

Book talk with Angelina Chin on her book Unsettling Exiles: Chinese Migrants in Hong Kong and the Southern Periphery During the Cold War.

Columbia University Press (2023)

The conventional story of Hong Kong celebrates the people who fled the mainland in the wake of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. In this telling, migrants thrived under British colonial rule, transforming Hong Kong into a cosmopolitan city and an industrial and financial hub. Unsettling Exiles recasts identity formation in Hong Kong, demonstrating that the complexities of crossing borders shaped the city’s uneasy place in the Sinophone world.

Angelina Y. Chin foregrounds the experiences of the many people who passed through Hong Kong without settling down or finding a sense of belonging, including refugees, deportees, “undesirable” residents, and members of sea communities. She emphasizes that flows of people did not stop at Hong Kong’s borders but also bled into neighboring territories such as Taiwan and Macau. Chin develops the concept of the “Southern Periphery”—the region along the southern frontier of the PRC, outside its administrative control yet closely tied to its political space. Both the PRC and governments in the Southern Periphery implemented strict migration and deportation policies in pursuit of border control, with profound consequences for people in transit. Chin argues that Hong Kong identity emerged from the collective trauma of exile and dislocation, as well as a sense of being on the margins of both the Communist and Nationalist Chinese regimes during the Cold War. Drawing on wide-ranging research, Unsettling Exiles sheds new light on Hong Kong’s ambivalent relationship to the mainland, its role in the global Cold War, and the origins of today’s political currents.

Angelina Y. Chin is associate professor of history at Pomona College. She is the author of Bound to Emancipate: Working Women and Urban Citizenship in Early Twentieth-Century China and Hong Kong (2012).

You can get a copy of the book via Columbia University Press.

Customers in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, East Asia, United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, Middle East, South Asia, South Africa and most of Latin America who purchase the book through the Columbia University Press website receive a 30% discount off the price of the book by using the promo code CUP30. 

Should you have any questions about this event, please feel free to email us at [email protected].

Book Talk #9 –
Date: May 12, 2023 (Friday)
Time: 1300 – 1430 Hong Kong time
Format: Online via Zoom
Language: English

Preview of the book talk series:

To be updated

Past book talks:

#1 Hong Kong Takes Flight: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Global Hub, 1930s–1998 by John D. Wong (HKU) on 07 October 2022 (Friday) at 1700HKT; In-person

#2 Hong Kong Visual Culture: The M+ Guide by Tina Pang (M+) on 04 November 2022 (Friday) at 1700HKT; In-person

#3 英國檔案中的香港前途問題 by Gary Cheung (CityU) on 18 November 2022 (Friday) at 1700HKT; In-person

#4 Building Colonial Hong Kong, Speculative Development and Segregation in the City by Cecilia L. Chu (HKU) on 25 November 2022 (Friday) at 1700HKT; Hybrid: Online & In-person

#5 Political Censorship in British Hong Kong, Freedom of Expression and the Law (1842–1997) by Michael Ng (HKU) on 09 December 2022 (Friday) at 1700HKT; Hybrid: Online & In-person

#6 Hong Kong Foodways (Hong Kong Matters) by Sidney Cheung (CUHK) on 13 January 2023 (Friday) at 1700HKT; In-person

#7 New Territories 界 by Justin Hui on 3 February 2023 (Friday) at 2100HKT; Online

#8 Hilton Cheong-Leen ( 張有興 ): First Chinese ‘Mayor’ of Hong Kong by Gary Cheung & Oliver Chou on 28 April 2023 (Friday) at 1700HKT; Hybrid: Online & In-person

#9 Unsettling Exiles: Chinese Migrants in Hong Kong and the Southern Periphery During the Cold War by Angelina Chin (Pomona College) on 12 May 2023 (Friday) at 1300HKT; Online

Angelina Chin
Date & Time
Talk #9 - 12 May 2023 (Friday) 1300 - 1430 HKT
Online via Zoom