Published in Deleuze and the Humanities: East and West (2018), eds. Braidotti, Wong, Chan, Rowman & Littlefield
(Based on a conference paper presented in June 2014 in Hong Kong)
An encounter with Lufsig: Political affect meets the nomadic post-colonial subject
In December 2013, the accidental (mis)translation of the IKEA Lufsig doll (“路姆西”) coupled with its Red Riding Hood wolf character turned the stuffed toy into an Internet sensation and the symbol for Hong Kongʼs political activism overnight. Lufsig, like Donna Harawayʼs cyborg figure that stands for new feminist subjectivities, comes to figure as Hong Kongʼs very own ʻnomadic subjectʼ, reflective of the complex configuration of political subjecthood in the post-colonial/metropolitan/multi-lingual city. The IKEA doll is itself an assemblage of symbols, narratives, locations, and languages—from a Swedish company, with a French/European fairy tale narrative, and a (badly) translated Chinese name, etc.—and now also an agent of affects of humour and laughter as well as anger and frustration in Hong Kong.
Deleuze and Guattari define affect as ʻbecomingsʼ in A Thousand Plateaus, focusing on affectʼs capacities to produce emergent effects in entering assemblages. Building upon the Spinozaʼs ʻaffectusʼ, these emergent effects either augment or diminish the bodyʼs capacity to act. While affect operates on the physiological and psychological dimensions, it also extends beyond the personal subject through imbricating the social and somatic in forming a body politic (re John Protevi). The completely sold-out IKEA doll demonstrates such an assemblage of forces, as a (con)temporary subject/object that animates (affective) politics.
Inspired by Rosi Bradottiʼs work on ʻnomadic subjectʼ as a performative metaphor for unlikely encounters and creative becomings, I focus upon the affective force of Lufsig in its encounters with the political subjectivities of local citizens. I study the doll as a rhizomatic site of solidarity and resistance and through it, analyse the multi-layered and complex forms of post-colonial political subjecthood that may be observed in Hong Kong today.