Visions of resistance and survival from Hong Kong detention camps
Decades after a cataclysmic event, human memory often recedes, replaced by more current concerns, while likely to be still lurking in the deepest recesses of the mind. The documentary evidence, however, if preserved, not only manages to maintain an important record, however disputable, of some of what happened, but offers new generations a change to re-interpret the past in the context of the present. This chapter teases out some of the voices preserved in artwork, political periodicals, and poetry from Vietnamese refugee detention camps in Hong Kong, especially the Whitehead Detention Center in Shatin. This is the literature of the transplanted and politically dispossessed, expressing political hatred for a victorious regime, as well as nostalgia for a lost homeland and vanquished regime, during an uncertain period in the midst of a tumultuous exodus of Vietnamese and ethnic Chinese Vietnamese “boat people” and others who arrived in Hong Kong by land in the two decades after 1975. The article draws on materials preserved in the Southeast Asian Archive at the University of California, Irvine’s Department of Special Collections and Archives.