Postage Stamps as Windows on Social Changes and Identity in Postcolonial Hong Kong



By relating the three definitive stamp series made during the postcolonial period to the changing political environment in Hong Kong, this chapter identifies themes in their designs which involve attempts by government to redefine Hong Kong’s national identity vis-à-vis perceived colonial nostalgia and ever-increasing stake in and tensions with mainland China. The social-semiotic framework of Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen is again employed to analyse the constituent parts of their designs as well as to examine them within their wider social contexts that have evolved over time. Hong Kong is seen to be using its unique heritage in a time of transition and uncertainty to assist in defining a distinct identity that is partly expressed through philately. While the first and second post-handover sets of definitive issues make clear references to the Anglo-Chinese cultural link in forging a hybrid identity, the third definitive issue stresses the importance of closer integration with mainland China after the transfer of sovereignty. The experience of Hong Kong provides an insight into the dynamics of the relationship between identity, heritage and philately that are especially complex within the context of postcolonial studies.


Postage stamps Former British colony East-meets-West National identity Postcolonial studies 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of Hong KongPok Fu LamHong Kong

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