Town Planning Review

Europe and the people without planning: reconsidering British interventions in colonial Hong Kong

Town Planning Review Ahead of print, 1–20.

Abstract

The commissioning of a plan by Patrick Abercrombie for British Hong Kong in 1947 is the entry point to explore claims of ‘benevolent colonialism’. Through an engagement with British colonial attitudes towards the majority Chinese population, we can critically re-evaluate claims that British planning brought a more enlightened form of urbanism. Instead, we find colonial inaction and a marked difference in housing and development standards based largely on racial distinctions between the perceived needs of European and Chinese inhabitants. By situating planning efforts in Hong Kong within the racial hierarchies of empire, we can examine how imperial power bolstered British planning.

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Beebeejaun, Yasminah