Organized Panel Session
Deemed a safe haven from the civil wars and communists in China, Hong Kong saw an influx of refugees from mainland China since the 1940s. The treatment of these refugees was at the heart of debates pertaining to national allegiances and humanitarianism during the Cold War. However, the term “refugee” within this historical context is fraught with contentions, considering its all-encompassing nature that included southbound literati, wealthy merchants or celebrities, as well as calculated usages by different ideological stakeholders. This paper focuses on the periodical Today’s World, which was part of U.S. efforts in leveraging on Hong Kong’s strategic position to carry out anti-Communist enterprises targeting overseas Chinese communities, and its genre of refugee literature highlighting the traumatic experiences of people who fled communist China to Hong Kong. Through examining these refugee narratives, who were also portrayed as escapees, loyalists or remnants to indicate different implications, I interrogate how these suffering bodies were mobilized as part of Free World to unpack contested notions of “refugee” within Cold War discourse. Furthermore, the portrayal of these bodies - caught between worlds - has allegorical significance for understanding Hong Kong as a liminal space of warring Cold War forces. In these texts, Hong Kong is often presented as a clear-cut borderline that separates two ideological worlds, but indeed, they manifested Hong Kong as a site where collaborations and confrontations occur concurrently. Hong Kong, as a city of refugees, suggests a sense of transitioning and a transgressive potentiality that resists fixed national allegiance.