Despite the large population of migrant workers residing and working in cosmopolitan Hong Kong, they have been largely underrepresented or represented negatively in Hong Kong cinema. The 2018 film Still Human, however, provides a rather flexible image of migrant workers with the use of code-switching as a pivotal device. Given the fact that Hong Kong is a multilingual society, the use of code-switching by migrant workers in Still Human can be interpreted, decoded, and reflected on as a tactic with multiple sociocultural functions and subversive potentials. Hence, this essay aims to examine the tactics and multilayered functions of code-switching in Still Human, focusing on three principal perspectives: code-switching as the practice of everyday resistance; code-switching as the manifestation of female agency; and code-switching as the site for identity politics. More crucially, this essay argues that in Still Human, the use of code-switching and code-mixing can be seen to enable migrant workers in Hong Kong to resist the structural domination of the global capitalist and neo-liberalist system while reinforcing female agency and autonomy, thereby deconstructing the self/other binary between the peripheral migrant population and the mainstream society.
Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies 49(1), p.49-66