Defying disappearance: Filipino labour migrants and public space in Hong Kong

Lisa Barbara Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the relationship between public space and cultural politics in Hong Kong. There is a tendency to assert that public space is disappearing in the city, whether through overt control of the public sphere or the commodification of landscape. While similar views have been expressed in relation to many cities around the world, in Hong Kong these concerns are difficult to disentangle from post-colonial politics. This paper therefore situates anxieties about public space within an historical geography of the Central district. This contextual strategy is deployed to frame a contemporary case study of the imaged powerful and powerless in the city: Hong Kong Land, Central leading landlord and Filipino domestic workers who gather in Central on Sundays to enjoy their day off. It is suggested that this gathering and the political rallies it hosts disrupt normative understandings of public space by introducing a transnational element that helps us to see Hong Kong's public spaces as contested. The paper concludes by pointing to the possibilities opened up by conceiving the public space of Central as a cultural landscape and as a cosmopolitan space reflective of Hong Kong's possible futures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1625-1645
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002




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