The forgotten road of progressive localism: New Preservation Movement in Hong Kong
CHENYun-Chung andMirana M. SZETO
Abstract Localism has become dominant in mainstream Hong Kong identity politics after the occupation period of the Umbrella Movement. This localism demonstrates the will of Hong Kong people to reclaim their own destiny, to reject the authoritarian rule of Beijing and to reclaim unique local cultural identities as different from China, e.g. uphold universal values and cosmopolitanism. However, this localism neither shares a unified cultural imaginary and symbolic order nor a single operational logic. There are at least two major kinds of localism in Hong Kong, i.e. one whose logic is based on anti-China blaming of the immigrant (i.e. xenophobia and exclusionary politics), and one whose modus operandi is to rebuild local communities (i.e. based on progressive, participatory, democratic values of inclusion, diversity and empowerment of the weak). These two polarized localisms often co-exist. The question is which one takes the lead or even becomes hegemonic in a situation or context. This article reexamines the emergence and transformation of localism in the last decade through participant observation in Hong Kong urban social movements. Instead of explaining why xenophobic localism (blaming the immigrant) becomes a dominant political power, we will take a closer look at the transformation of the progressive and recalcitrant “localism through community rebuilding movement,” or simply New Preservation Movement as the actually existing alternative.
Keywords: New Preservation Movement, localism, community movement, democratization, Hong Kong
Dr. CHEN Yun Chung was born in Malaysia, trained as community planner and urban studies scholar (MPhil in Planning, Taiwan National University; Ph.D. in Urban Planning, UCLA). He is currently an associate professor in Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, interested in innovation studies and critical urban studies. He actively participates in urban preservation and community building movements in Hong Kong.
Mirana May Szeto did her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, UCLA and is Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong. She publishes in critical theory journals like Interventions and Concentric, writes on China, Hong Kong, Taiwan cinema, literature, coloniality, urban cultural politics and policy in journals like Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Jump Cut and volumes like Hong Kong Screenscapes (HKU Press, 2011), Neoliberalism and Global Cinema (Routledge, 2011), Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader (Columbia UP, 2013), Sinophone Cinemas (Palgrave, 2014), A Companion to Hong Kong Cinema (Blackwell, 2015). Her current book is on Hong Kong SAR New Wave Cinema in the Age of Mainlandization and Neoliberalization.