Resistance, activism and ordinary life : an editorial introduction

Stephen C. K. CHAN

Research output: Journal PublicationsEditorial/Preface (Journal)

3 Citations (Scopus)


On the streets, over the internet, in the malls, across neighbourhoods, the Hong Kong resistance grows with the shaping of a consciousness of common identity under oppression. Inscribed in the ‘structure of feeling' of our time, such articulation of the ordinary as local messes up people's everyday trajectory in the unholy partnership between global capitalism and Chinese authoritarianism. This special volume offers a telling account of the embedded politics of affect involved. Challenged by the uncanny facelessness of the present, we examine the dire condition of the cityscape and the livelihood it traces. We analyse substantive tactics of critique ranging from eco-writing of Hong Kong as colony to habits of singing in an erotic Taiwanese teahouse. While local activism of a different sort assimilates unlikely cultural resources in Mainland China, taken together these struggles for identity situate subjects in their roles as consumer, entertainer, freelancer, digital gamer, cultural activist as well as intellectual. The locality of resistance moves from a translocal football stadium to a co-working space in Shanghai, from massive street demonstrations in the postcolony to switched-on enactments of cyber-‘activism'. Performing politics amid multiple relays of quotidian acts, individuals feed their ordinary imagination to alternative critiques. What transpires is a community evolving from fan solidarity to intimacy, erotic narrative to friendship, provincial sex-entertainment to urban self-entrepreneurship. Everyday contacts and lived fantasies link invisible writers to invisible readers, clients with hostesses, and drifting memes to drifting netizens. Despite tyranny, diffuse voices upset the status quo. As people enact their acts of identity, they reframe the given politics of affect by making the crushed ordinary life bearable of a fan, a creative labourer, a queer erotic addict, a teahouse hostess and her frustrated client, a frustrated, agitated intellectual, a desperate street activist, as well as millions of faceless online ‘subjects’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-184
Number of pages14
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number2
Early online date15 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Hong Kong experience
  • Structure of feeling
  • authoritarianism
  • politics of identity
  • tactics of resistance
  • the everyday-in-suspense


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