How to Differentiate Cultures from One Anther? A Case Study of Hong Kong Culture

  • Abstract:

    How can we differentiate cultures? It is a difficult question for westerners to distinguish Hong Kongese culture from Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese, for they are too similar to each other. In order to maintain the political security and the national unity of China, Chinese Communist government keeps on oppressing local cultural identities, particularly Hong Kong cultural identity in recent year, although Hong Kong is an autonomous region (known as ‘Special Administrative Region’) which should be free from Chinese political intervention. Traditional philosophy of culture, which defines culture as ‘spirit’ or value system, can hardly help us differentiate cultures in East Asia, particularly when globalisation and regionalisation further diversify the values of cultures there. For instance, you can hardly define a clear value system of Hong Kong Culture. As the author of the new book ‘A Discourse on Hong Kong Culture’, in my presentation I would like to introduce a new definition of culture in my book (known as ‘existential hermeneutical definition’), that culture as a power of interpretation provided by the community. I would argue that without our own culture we shall lose our ability of interpretation. When the people in a community shares a similar existential situation (similar history, same geographical location and social-economic interaction), the same language, similar values, similar ways of living and they are linked by a community network, they form a cultural self. Using Hong Kong culture as a case study I am going to demonstrate that the cultural self is emergent when an individual member realises that someone is culturally different from him. The new concept of culture may be applied in not only cultural studies, but also the political theories and social activisms for separatism, nationalism or localism.