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About the author

Michael_Leung-Photo_by_Luke_Casey

Michael Leung is an artist/designer, researcher, and visiting lecturer. He was born in London and moved to Hong Kong eleven years ago to complete a Masters in Design at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His projects range from collective agriculture projects such as The HK FARMers’ Almanac 2014–2015 to Pangkerchief, a collection of objects produced by Pang Jai fabric market in Sham Shui Po.

Michael is a visiting lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University where he teaches social practice (MA). He is currently in the third year of his PhD at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on Insurrectionary Agricultural Milieux, rhizomatic forms of agriculture that exist in local response to the global conditions of biopolitics and neoliberalism. Locally, Michael is researching the colonial residue and (non-)Indigenous entanglements in the New Territories through his solidarity with Wang Chau villagers, who are currently being evicted by the Hong Kong government.

In 2014, Michael started writing fiction, self-publishing, and reading his work in public spaces. He contributes monthly to Fong Fo, an artist zine printed on the 21st of each month in Guangzhou. He is currently working on his thesis novel. His website is www.studioleung.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Imprint
Author
Date
30 November 2020
Review status
Peer Reviewed (Editorial Group)
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Cite as
Michael Leung, "Wang Chau Village: (Non-)Indigenous Wisdom, Amidst Eviction", British Art Studies, Issue 18, https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-18/mleung
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Wang Chau Village: (Non-)Indigenous Wisdom, Amidst Eviction
DOI

I first met the Wang Chau villagers in February 2017 during an action in a commercial district in Hong Kong. Wang Chau is a village in the New Territories with 200 households, 500 villagers and pets, surrounded by trees and small farms and gardens. During these past three years, I have learned details about the colonial residue and the Indigenous and non-Indigenous dichotomy that has led to the dispossession of the villagers’ homes and the ongoing destruction of the green belt village. 

“Wang Chau Village: (Non-)Indigenous Wisdom, Amidst Eviction,” available for download on the next slide, is a paper written for the Association for Asian Studies conference (September 2020), which was presented in a panel with anthropologists focusing on land and sea practices and food sovereignty. Since starting my PhD in 2018, I have shared bilingual texts freely online and through zines—available at zine fairs and for free. The zine format allows a more intimate reading experience and becomes a tangible object that can be gifted to others, self-organised libraries, archives, and so on.

DOI

DOI Figure 1

Michael Leung, quote from Wang Chau Village zine, 2020. This is a quote from the zine, typed up similarly to past and current policies imposed by the former British colonial government in Hong Kong.

DOI

When I first joined a tour of Wang Chau in 2017, I saw a monochrome village map that loosely looked like a metro subway map, showing different places in the village such as Wong Bak’s village well and the Fung Chi Village entrance. I kindly offered to do a painting of the village for the 2017 Wang Chau Jackfruit Festival. In the following three festivals, with villagers and members of the concern group, I updated the map to its latest 2020 iteration—which is unfortunately likely to be the last amidst the eviction. However, Ms Cheng told me last week, that perhaps we can replant some Wang Chau jackfruit trees in other places and have the next jackfruit festivals elsewhere.

Please download a double-sided PDF of the map here.

DOI Figure 2

Michael Leung, Wang Chau Jackfruit Festival Map (front), 2020.
Digital image courtesy of Michael Leung.

DOI Figure 3

Michael Leung, Wang Chau Jackfruit Festival Map (back), 2020.
Digital image courtesy of Michael Leung.

DOI Figure 4

Michael Leung, A Land Protector’s Clothes Line, watercolour.
Digital image courtesy of Michael Leung.

DOI

This painting depicts an imaginary clothes line with four different garments. From the left to right, they are: a sleeveless shirt worn by village protectors in 1899, when anti-imperial villagers threatened to attack villages, who refused to join the war against the British colonial government (壮勇 Strong and Brave); a white T-shirt hand painted by villagers early in the movement (冤 Injustice), a T-shirt gifted to me from the Wang Chau Green Belt Concern Group (不遷不拆 誓保家園 No Eviction No Demolition, We Swear to Protect Our Home); and a poncho worn by land protectors at the ZAD (Zone à Défendre, Zone to Defend) in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, resisting the construction of an airport and its world (ZAD Partout, ZADs Everywhere).

DOI Figure 5

Michael Leung, 土地是家不是商品! (The land is our home and not a commodity!), 2017–2020, calligraphy on photograph.
Digital image courtesy of Michael Leung.

DOI

土地是家不是商品! (The land is our home and not a commodity!) is composed on top of a photograph of a faded and weathered banner in Wing Ning Village, Wang Chau. The sheet metal fencing surrounds a green belt area that has been acquired by New World Development Company Limited in Wing Ning Village. The original photograph was taken on 3 May 2017. The calligraphy was added on 14 November 2020. At present there are eleven villages facing dispossession in Hong Kong. Hopefully the message on this banner can be helpful in some way and connect villagers from different land struggles together.

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