Sustaining a “Village Community” in Urban Hong Kong: The Study of Fire Dragon Dance in Pokfulam Village
This thesis investigates a “village community” located in urban fringe of Hong Kong that fights for community sustainability in the face of urban redevelopment. Pokfulam Village is one of the last few surviving villages in Hong Kong with a traceable history of around 200 years. However, it is never free from the threat of demolition. Unlike those traditional villages in the New Territories, the Village looks like a shanty town. Though it is an indigenous village, it does not enjoy the privilege as its counterpart in the New Territories. In the eyes of the Government and many people, Pokfulam Village is just a squatter area with no conservation value. All these contribute to the marginal position of the Village.
This marginalized community adopts a very proactive role to improve their situation and conserve the Village. Though no lineage has developed in this traditional village, Pokfulam Village has alternative way to organize itself through formation of various kinds of organizations. One of the organizations is highly active in sustaining this Village community. To strengthen sense of place and mobilize villagers to participate in the village conservation campaign, this organization has organized various communal activities. Apart from these types of communal activities, the Village has other communal events namely traditional festivals. Amongst them, fire dragon dance for Mid-autumn Festival by far is the most important activity and widely participated event in the Village. In the past, this annual event was mainly used to ward off bad fortune. Nowadays, this event serves to reinforce sense of community, strengthen the solidarity, and reaffirm the community boundaries. Being an intangible cultural heritage, the Village engages the fire dragon dance strategically as a tool to sustain its community. The Village presents its fire dragon dance as valuable intangible cultural heritage of Hong Kong and strives hard for official recognition by the Government. It is argued that till this end, the fire dragon dance is the most efficient strategy employed by this village community in sustaining itself in the urban fringe of Hong Kong.