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Acknowledgements

The white British expatriates working for public sector organisations lost their

automatic entitlements and had to ‘put up or get out’: either accept the new rulers

and acquire a basic level of competence in Cantonese or go home. In spite of these

political changes, my respondents reveal that many of them still see the Region

through the lens of difference. Their talk of ‘them’ and ‘us’ reflects a persistence in

the colonial ‘look’ (Fanon 1967), and an ongoing reworking of the colonial

imagination. The continued success of many of the transnational (Western)

corporations in Hong Kong reminds them daily that, whilst the governance of

Hong Kong might have changed, global power relations have changed little, and

certainly whiteness, if not Britishness, can still bring privilege. However, my

selection of respondents in this paper was motivated by a desire to underscore the

diversity between British expatriates, because it is on such material differences that

a postcolonial approach may identify the emerging shoots of change on which to

build a political agenda. At the local level, change can emerge from the practices of

individuals who are trying to do things differently. People such as Amanda and

Bernard can be seen to be attempting to challenge the lingering smell of empire,

even from their point of exclusion, marginalised as they are by their gender, class,

religion and politics. It is clear from their comments, however, that they do imagine

another Hong Kong, in which the racial and social boundaries between people

disappear. The suggestion of an emergence of a new ‘postcolonial imagination’

encourages us to draw some hope here, and see positions on the border as ‘creative

of new cartographies of identity and difference’ (Giroux 1992: 23). This was

supported by the fact that my research uncovered other British expatriates, working

in different organisational settings, who revealed an awareness that the postcolonial

context demands this new kind of imagination, one which embraces an increased

acceptance of diversity and a tolerance of other ways of doing things (see Leonard

2008). As new expatriates arrive with personal biographies which question the links

to old ways and routines, the spaces on the borders of British expatriate life may

work to fracture the link to the colonial imagination, in ways which may, in

Giroux’s words, ‘undermine and reterritorialise different configurations of culture,

power and knowledge’ (1992: xx).