Gordon Mathews, a professor of anthropology at Chinese University, will be giving a lecture about Chungking Mansions, at the Royal Geographical Society of Hong Kong, on Tuesday. For more than four years, Mathews embedded himself in the 17-storey Tsim Sha Tsui building, undertaking immersive and comprehensive research for his 2011 book, Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions. Home to a large African and South Asian immigrant population, the block is a key setting in the 1994 film Chungking Express, directed by Wong Kar-wai …

The Shanghai-born filmmaker moved to Hong Kong with his mother when he was five. “I sometimes compare making a film to cooking,” he once said. “Some dishes need to be stewed while others need to be fried.” Perhaps it’s this unique approach to filmmaking that inspires his slow-motion action scenes, distorted close-ups and fight sequences shot from disorienting angles. As critic Jeremy Tambling writes in a book about Wong’s film Happy Together, the director also finds inspiration in the works of deceased Argentine writers Manuel Puig, Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luis Borges …

Considered one of the 20th century’s greatest writers, Borges was a voracious reader. In an autobiographical essay, he wrote, “If I were asked to name the chief event in my life, I should say my father’s library.” He’s been described as “the best-read citizen of the globe in his day”. Among his heroes were philosophers David Hume and Arthur Schopenhauer but he was a “conservative in politics”, writes a professor at Yale University, and Borges was “repulsed” by the theory and practice of Karl Marx …

A German revolutionary and political economist, Marx, in 1848, co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels. In 1867, he penned the first of three volumes of his most important work, Das Kapital. More than 130 years after his death, Marx’s ideas are still relevant, especially with the economic turmoil putting capitalism’s weaknesses under the spotlight in recent years. One thinker who has tried to apply Marxist thought to the modern era is Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek …

Referred to by some as the “Elvis Presley of philosophy”, Zizek is a cultural theorist who grew up under the Tito regime in what was then Yugoslavia. As an intellectual whose interests range from psychoanalysis to pop culture – he scripted and presented the documentaries The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006) and The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (2012) – Zizek’s leftist ideas are proving divisive. The financial crisis has only served to expand his international following, elevating him to, as The Guardian newspaper puts it, “the status of a global-recession celebrity”. In 2011, he took part in a live-streamed conversation with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, moderated by Amy Goodman …

A co-founder of award-winning news programme Democracy Now!, Goodman has worked in journalism since graduating with an anthropology degree from Harvard-Radcliffe in 1984. In 1991, while covering the East Timor independence movement, Goodman and a fellow journalist were beaten and almost executed by Indonesian troops. For her investigative work, Goodman became the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, considered by some to be the “alternative Nobel Prize”. She also contributed to The Occupy Handbook, a collection of essays on the Occupy Wall Street movement by cultural commentators including Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs, Paul Volcker and … Gordon Mathews.