Walking among the light and the dark, Kowloon Park. Source: Liao Jiaming 2018.
Gender as Spatial Identity Gender strategizing in postcolonial and neocolonial Hong Kong






hong kong, postcolonial, neocolonial, performativity, authenticity


A photo essay exploring the how gender identity is deliberately constructed through social positioning within the urban landscape of Hong Kong. Hong Kong has always had a binary identity, which continues through from the postcolonial to the neocolonial. This creates layers of additional complexity around gender identity, which is explored in terms of performativity and authenticity through both the heterosexual fluidity of foreign domestic workers and through homosexual tactics of local men, within a public park in Hong Kong. By rejecting the past through a politics of disappearance, previous boundaries around fluidity, repression, and suppression continue to influence the present in a volatile neocolonial context opening questions around what is an authentic performance of self.

How to Cite

Buker, L., & Bruyns, G. (2019). Gender as Spatial Identity Gender strategizing in postcolonial and neocolonial Hong Kong. Cubic Journal, 2(2), 100–119. https://doi.org/10.31182/cubic.2019.2.020



Author Biographies

Leon Buker, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Leon Buker is currently completing a master’s in design (design strategies) with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He holds a BSc in computer science and a BA in philosophy, both from Australian National University (ANU). He is midway through an MBA with the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), and has also taken courses in anthropology, psychoanalysis, art history and data analytics. Leon’s work experience includes IT infrastructure, security and systems design, as well as the management of business change, product management in the baby toy industry, and as a director of a language institute. Leon was born in South Africa, grew up and worked in Australia, then the UK, Germany, mainland China (where he twice received the award of Outstanding Foreign Expert from the Chinese government), and now Hong Kong where he currently resides.

Gerhard Bruyns, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Dr. ir. Gerhard Bruyns is an architect and urbanist. He is assistant professor of the Environment and Interior Design, School of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. His research deals with the aspects of spatial forms and how these impact both the formal expression of the city and societal conditions that are compressed into an urban landscape driven by speculation and excess. He has published on design strategies for neoliberal landscapes, exploring what this means for concepts as the 'square foot society' and models of urban dwelling and planning. In 2012 he coedited African Perspectives [South] Africa. City, Society, Space, Literature and Architecture (010 Publishers: Rotterdam) part of the Delft School of Design Publication Series. In 2015 he was co-editor of Issue #16 of Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal entitled: Introduction: Commoning as Differentiated Publicness (JapSam Books 2015).


Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Thinking Gender. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Cenzatti, Marco. “Heterotopias of Difference.” In Heterotopia and the City – Urban Theory and the Transformations of Public Space. Edited by M. Dehaene and L. De Cauter. Oxford, UK and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

Certeau, Michel De. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984

Google. Google Maps. Accessed September 11, 2018. https://www.google.com/maps/@22.2982202,114.1739564,158a,35y,286.68h,71.25t/data=!3m1!1e3.

The Government of Hong Kong SAR. Women and Men in Hong Kong – Key Statistics. Accessed 14 December 14, 2018. https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/gender/labour_force/

Halberstam, Judith. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. Sexual Cultures series. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

Halbwach, Maurice. On Collective Memory. Translated by Lewis A. Coser. Heritage of Sociology Series. London, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Labour Department – The Government of the Hong Kong SAR. “Importation of Labour – Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs).” Public Services – Policy Support. Last modified December 19, 2017. Accessed August 30, 2018. https://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/plan/iwFDH.htm

Lin, Alex. “How Hong Kong’s Kowloon Park got its name, despite public pressure to call it Sun Yat-sen Garden.” South China Morning Post, June 22, 2018. Accessed September 11, 2018. https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/shortreads/article/2151652/how-hong-kongs-kowloon-park-gotits-name-despite

Lloyd, Moya. “Performativity, Parody, Politics.” Theory, Culture & Society 16, no. 2 (1999): 195-213.

Sundaram, Ravi. Pirate Modernity: Delhi’s Media Urbanism. Oxford, New York: Routledge, 2010.

Vittachi, Nury. “HSBC's rainbow lions: Can we have our homophobia back please?” Hong Kong Free Press, December 7, 2016. Accessed September 9, 2018. https://www.hongkongfp.com/2016/12/07/hsbcs-rainbow-lions-can-homophobia-backplease/.

Ward, Colleen, Stephen Bochner, and Adrian Furnham. The Psychology of Culture Shock. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Zheng, Liang. “Neo-colonialism, ideology or just business?: China’s perception of Africa.” Global Media and Communication 6, no. 3 (2010): 271-276. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1742766510384964