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Creating a Textual Public Space: Slogans and Texts from Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

  • Sebastian Veg

Abstract

Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement (September–December 2014) represented a watershed in Hong Kong's political culture and self-understanding. Based on over 1,000 slogans and other textual and visual material documented during the movement, this study provides an overview of claims, which are oriented towards an assertion of agency, articulated at different levels: in a universalistic mode (“democracy”), in relation with a political community (Hong Kong autonomy and decolonization), and through concrete policy aims. At the same time, slogans mobilize diverse cultural and historical repertoires that attest the hybrid quality of Hong Kong identity and underscore the diversity of sources of political legitimacy. Finally, it will be argued that by establishing a system of contending discourses within the occupied public spaces, the movement strived to act out a type of discursive democracy. Despite the challenges that this discursive space encountered in interacting with the authorities and the public at large, it represented an unfinished attempt to build a new civic culture among Hong Kong's younger generation.

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