In most societies the school subject of History reflects and reinforces a sense of collective identity. However, in Hong Kong this has emphatically not been the case. Official and popular ambivalence towards 'the nation' in the shape of the People's Republic of China, and the sensitivity of Hong Kong's own political and cultural status, have meant that the question of local identity has until recently been largely sidestepped in school curricula and textbooks. In this ground-breaking study, Edward Vickers sets out to reexamine some of the myths concerning colonialism and schooling under the British, while showing how in postcolonial Hong Kong these myths have been deployed to legitimise a programme of nationalistic re-education. In a new Afterword, he emphasises that it is Hong Kong's fundamentally undemocratic political context that has thwarted and continues to thwart efforts to make history education a vehicle for fostering a liberal, democratic sense of regional and national citizenship.
Edward Vickers is Lecturer in Comparative Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. He is co-editor of History Education and National Identity in East Asia (New York: Routledge, 2005).