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Title: The protesting youths of Hong Kong : post-80s reimaginings of politics through self, body, and space
Author: Lam-Knott, Sonia Yue Chuen
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 6422
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines the political activism of Hong Kong youths known as the Post-80s. In contrast to dominant discourse in Hong Kong claiming that these youths are driven by economic concerns, based on 18 months of fieldwork, I suggest that the Post-80s are instead striving to reimagine what politics means as a part of life in the postcolonial city. It is emphasised that youths are 'protesting' as an act of rejecting mainstream politics, and as a means to realise their desire for a different form of politics to emerge in the city. By bringing youth voices to the forefront, this thesis addresses two broad themes - why and how the Post-80s protest. The thesis first provides an overview of Hong Kong politics, arguing that youths express a deep sense of dissatisfaction towards the political culture in society dictated by financial interests, and towards the hierarchical structures within the political domains that stifle the public voice. The thesis then reviews how the Post-80s challenge these conditions by positing a form of alternative politics predicated on individualistic self-representation manifesting through the self, body, and space. I look at youth claims that becoming political is an 'individual choice', and the ways in which their strong sense of individuality interacts with/counteracts the limitations on their political participation imposed by familial ties and gender roles. I then explore Post-80s attempts to dispel bodily passivity in protests through the incorporation of performance art into their political actions to empower the individual activist, and analyse youth attempts to reconfigure urban space into political sites of individualistic experimentation. The conclusion reviews the impact Post-80s activism has had on the realpolitik of the city, noting the inherent contradictions within the political efforts of the Post-80s and their limited ability to inflict widespread structural changes in Hong Kong politics.
Supervisor: Xiang, Biao Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Youth--Political activity--China--Hong Kong ; Protest movements--China--Hong Kong ; Demonstrations--China--Hong Kong ; Youth--Social conditions--21st century ; Social movements--China--Hong Kong ; Hong Kong (China)--Politics and government--21st century ; Hong Kong (China)--Social conditions--21st century