Hannah Poon | Surviving in Abeyance: Digital Networks and Resistance in Hong Kong after the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement

Hannah Poon | Surviving in Abeyance: Digital Networks and Resistance in Hong Kong after the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement | University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) | Supervisor(s): Jeroen de Kloet & Leonie Schmidt | 15 September 2022 to 14 September 2026 | h.l.poon[at]uva.nl

How to sustain a political movement when it is not allowed? How to survive in abeyance? Hong Kong’s 2019-20 Anti-Extradition Bill (Anti-ELAB) Movement, a full-scale democratic struggle against Chinese rule, was forced into abeyance under the National Security Law imposed in June 2020. Followed by hard-handed suppression, activist networks were forced to shift to other arenas less susceptible to the regime’s control: consumer marketplace, fan culture, and diasporic communities. These informal networks remain active in constructing political discourse and staging micro-resistance, which remaps the boundaries of politics and solidarity outside traditional institutions, protests, and civil society.

This PhD project takes these three social networks as case studies to analyse (1) what and where are the social forces emanating from the Anti-ELAB movement transformed into after demobilization; (2) how do digital platforms afford political discourse and facilitate collective and connective actions; and (3) how do these tactics impact political struggles in non-democratic societies. The cases will be studied through a mix of netnography, app walkthrough method, discourse analysis with computerized content and network analyses, participant-observation fieldwork, and interviews.