Mediating movement in occupied spaces : documentation on social media pages in the context of the Umbrella Movement

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The umbrella movement that broke out in Hong Kong in September 2014 opened a new chapter in the nation’s political history and saw new unprecedented uses of social media. The firing of the teargas by the police on September 28 ignited intense anger and anxiety among Hong Kong people. The event rekindled many people’s proud identity as Hong Konger and allowed for its articulation. During the seventy-nine days when protesters occupied the busy roads of Admiralty, Mongkok and Causeway Bay, some set up Facebook pages and groups dedicated to the movement, apart from the usual acts of posting content on their own Facebook profiles. The spectacular and emotive charges of the Umbrella Revolution fueled and accentuated the use of social media for political commentary and discussion but also for documentation and archiving. This chapter explores how and why Hong Kongers made use of Facebook as a medium and platform to document and archives the movement. While the digital activism literature has focused on the internet’s capacities for organization and mobilization (Salter, 2003), much less has focused on social media’s role of documentation in social movements. Even less literature has analysed narrativity and aesthetics in the practice of documentation in social media in the context of social movements. Hence, I shall focus on the act and materiality of documentation, as an (affective) participation in the movement, and how it mediates between movement and (social media) spatiality. This chapter ultimately argues that documentation is affective political participation in how the social media as a social movement space enables ‘ordinary’ Facebook users as ‘sudden activists’ express and reflect over a social movement. This chapter also contributes to discussions of the role of the social in the political in focusing on the social motivations behind social media documentary practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTaking the Square: Mediated Dissent and Occupations of Public Space
EditorsMaria ROVISCO, Jonathan Corpus ONG
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRowman and Littlefield International
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781783483952
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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