The Empire, the Naturalist, and the Countryside: Biological Science in Colonial Hong Kong



This article examines the significance of the Hong Kong countryside as a site of knowledge production. By analyzing biologist Geoffrey Herklots’ career as a university academic, a naturalist, and a colonial official, I demonstrate the scientific and geopolitical importance of biology in interwar Hong Kong. Drawing on an article in the journal Herklots created (Hong Kong Naturalist), a proposal for a colonial museum, and the connection between biology and wartime experience, I illustrate the role biology plays in the imagination of the British Empire as well as how Hong Kong’s countryside can be understood through the lens of science.

Author Biography

Leo Chu, University of British Columbia, Canada

Leo Chu holds a BSc in biology from the University of Hong Kong and an MA in science and technology studies from the University of British Columbia. His thesis focuses on the connection between systems ecology and urban planning in early 1970s North America. Apart from STS and history of science, he also writes about film, literary, and game criticism.

Hong Kong in the 1930s.