Narrative Justice for Hong Kong when All Is Lost

Victoria Hui, Notre Dame University

This paper presents oral histories of Hongkongers in exile in Taiwan. Hong Kong, once a global city on par with New York, has been turned into a “city of fear” in the “People’s Republic of Amnesia.” In China, the 1989 protests and bloody repression are censored. The more recent feminist movement is “erased.” The white paper protest is “flattened.” Hong Kong is supposed to enjoy freedom with a vibrant civil society. However, under the National Security Law crackdown since 2020, the police force, the judiciary, the civil service, the media have been turned into tools of repression. Voices for democracy are jailed. Records of dissent are censored. Half a million have exited. The authorities have also ruptured the bonds that once held the society together by incentivizing defection from former friends and allies and by dismantling civil society organizations. When political, judicial, economic, and social justice have simultaneously collapsed, the only ray of hope left is narrative justice -- the securing of collective memory and shared experiences. Even this last line of defense is an uphill battle in the face of patriotic education, censorship, propaganda and misinformation. Those who publish or distribute protest history and protest materials are subject to arrest and imprisonment. While Hong Kong people who personally experienced past protests cannot easily forget, there are worrisome signs that “patriotic education” is effective among small children. When all is lost, the only thing left is to hold on to and pass down a collective memory, a distinctive language, and a shared identity to counter erasure. This research will hopefully piece back together some broken parts of a repressed civil society.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 231. Social Movements, Political Protest, and Advocacy