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Durham e-Theses
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Cosmopolitan Food Localism:
Emergence of Global Local Food Movements in Postcolonial Hong Kong

HO, HAO-TZU (2019) Cosmopolitan Food Localism:
Emergence of Global Local Food Movements in Postcolonial Hong Kong.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Various forms of local food movements across the world have a shared goal of addressing the social and environmental implications of transnational, industrial, and corporate food systems. This thesis examines this trend manifesting in an under-studied context, Hong Kong, where educated young urbanites have been growing food and advocating the revival of agriculture since the 2010s. Research undertaken to date tends to view such campaigns as local resistance to the global. In affluent societies, the activism is regarded as part of the urban middle-class privilege of choosing ‘green’ lifestyles. However, grounded on fourteen months of multi-sited fieldwork, this thesis recognises distinctive features of the Hong Kong case. This thesis aims to contribute towards the anthropology of food and the anthropology of cities, and enhance the knowledge of locality, food localism, alternative food movements, sustainability, environmentalism, neoliberalism, and cosmopolitanism in East Asia.

Hong Kong is often described as a metropolis where ‘East meets West’. Hybridity and multicultural encounters brought about by colonisation and the city’s position as an international financial hub are seen as natural and ordinary, whereas the meaning of ‘local’ is contentious. Food localism cultivated in such setting is underpinned by imported elements and trans-local interactions as opposed to anti-globalisation rhetoric or ‘anti-China’ sentiment that pervades Hong Kong since the 1997 handover. Localness is defined not by a sense of territoriality but a mentality that this thesis conceptualises as cosmopolitan food localism. Young farmers and activists formulate localness through reconnecting to the land and restoring social relations. A form of living that they envision, ‘sustainable living’, entails carving out alternatives to the current one ruled by neoliberal governmentality. Concerned with a low quality of life and soaring costs of living, educated young people do not self-identify as the middle class, nor becoming farmers a pursuit of postmaterialist values.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Jul 2019 08:22

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