Popular periodicals played an indispensable role in the print industry and popular culture in the modern Sinophone world. The tabloids, evening newspapers, sanrikan (‘three-day journals’ – publications which appeared twice a week), weeklies, pictorials and other magazines that were mass-produced and widely circulated in the Guangzhou-Hong Kong-Macau area from the turn of the 20th century onwards present a window not only to Lingnan tradition, Cantonese customs, folk literature, regional commences, cultural activities, the latest fashion and the new ideas of the era, but also to the life and expressions of Cantonese diaspora sojourning in Chinatowns across North and South America, Europe, Nanyang (South-east Asia) and anywhere else they found themselves. They offer vital insights to understanding the heritage of the Pearl River Delta, from which Hong Kong originally derived its popular culture, and the networks of Cantonese culture established around the world.
With the advent of digital humanities, periodical studies have flourished. Numerous databases have established in the past few decades, some on a national scale, such as the Quanguo Baokan Suoyin and Dacheng Old Journals Full-text Database, others with a regional focus, such as the CUHK Digital Repository-Hong Kong Early Tabloid Newspapers and Macau Memory. These collections provide invaluable channels for researchers, including ourselves, to study primary materials. Yet what seems to have been missing until now is a platform that can bridge today’s national and regional administrative boundaries and offer a cross-border ‘Cantonese culture’ take. Until the end of the first half of the last century, there existed between the cities of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau, a constant sharing of authors, cross-border advertisements, overlapping distribution networks and common cultural icons. The historical specificities these presented were the impetus for us to create this website. By building on the works of previous researchers and librarians, we have collected information about popular periodicals stored in various databases, libraries in Hong Kong, Macau and the United Kingdom and private collections to put together the 80 entries found on this site and which together offer a rich expression of a ‘Cantonese cultural region’.
While the contents and styles of these periodicals vary widely, each one meets at least one of the following criteria:
1. Having significance as a Cantonese popular culture periodical.
2. Having editors and contributors who played a notable role in one or more of the Hong Kong, Guangzhou or Macau cultural industries.
3. Showing the diversity of Cantonese popular culture.
Our selection is not limited to periodicals published in Guangzhou, Hong Kong or Macau. Also included are a few magazines or pictorials from Shantou, featured to display the area’s own character as part of the Chaoshan (Teo-Swa) culture which has long been a distinctive part of Cantonese culture. Another significant non-metropolitan journal was the ‘hometown magazine’ Hing Mee Monthly, published for nearly ten years in the small village of Hengmei in Zhongshan, but distributed as far off as Cuba. Our selection also includes a few magazines published by Xierong Yinshuguan (Co-prosperous Publishing) during Japan’s occupation of Hong Kong. Though heavily coloured by propaganda, they offer valuable insights into how Cantonese customs and Hong Kong’s cultural industries responded to the demands of that period.
We hope that this website can provide an integrated, accessible platform for researchers and the public to explore the many popular Cantonese periodicals now collected at different locations. Even better would be if it inspired further research, particularly in the (re)discovery, conservation and digitization of these periodicals!
Nga Li Lam (PhD in Humanities, HKUST) has research interest in Shanghai and Cantonese popular culture.
Charmaine Hui (BA in English and Comparative Literature, HKU; MA in European Cultural Policy and Management, University of Warwick; PhD in Architecture, CUHK) has research interest in the conservation of architecture, cultural and creative industries and creative cities.
Emily Chau (PhD in Chinese Language and Literature, CUHK) has research interest in topography, periodical studies, and food and drink in literature. Her publications include Dishes in Books (shizican zhuo), and the co-edited first and second volumes of Overprinting: Walks in the Landscape of Hong Kong Literature (dieyin: manbu Xianggang wenxue dijing).
Cleo Lai (PhD in Humanities, Literature Major) has research interest in Hong Kong and Taiwan popular literature and culture. She is the author of Cultural Hybrids: A study of Hong Kong Romance Novel in the 1950s. (wen hua zajiao: xiang gangwulingnian daiyan qing xiao shuoyan jiu).
We would like to express our thanks to the following institutions and individuals:
Lord Wilson Heritage Trust
Department of Chinese, The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong Libraries
Chinese University of Hong Kong Library
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Hong Kong
Department of Public Library Management of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government
Hong Kong Public Libraries
Ng Ho's Facebook Page
Sarjana Design Studio
We are seeking funding and collaboration partners for the next phase of our project. Contact us ([email protected]) to know more!