Should the Chinese Language be Taught in Putonghua? Contested Identities in Post-1997 Hong Kong
Choi, Po King
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This talk by Po King Choi was the inaugural Bernard H. K. Luk Memorial Lecture organized by the York Centre for Asian Research on 27 April 2017. Bernard H. K. Luk (1946-2016) was a Professor of History at York University, Toronto and an internationally recognized authority on the history of Hong Kong. Dr Choi’s lecture explores the nationalist politics and debates around the medium of instruction of the Chinese language in Hong Kong. She analyzes the surprising levels of uptake of state policies that were implemented to promote the standardized national language, Putonghua (PTH) and maps out pedagogical perspectives about the efficacy of teaching and learning PTH. The talk also examines emergent forms of resistance to PTH standardization and the concomitant mobilization of a “Hong Kong identity” against fears of encroaching mainland ideological dominance. Drawing on interviews with teachers and student activists, her talk provides a sense of the experiences, sentiments and strategies of resistance on the ground. Choi’s lecture makes pertinent connections between the politics of language education, post-Umbrella Movement forms of resistance and broader democratization movements in Hong Kong.