The forgotten road of progressive localism : new preservation movement in Hong Kong

Yun Chung CHEN, Mirana M. SZETO

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Localism has become dominant in mainstream Hong Kong identity politics after the occupation period of the Umbrella Movement. This localism demonstrates the will of Hong Kong people to reclaim their own destiny, to reject the authoritarian rule of Beijing and to reclaim unique local cultural identities as different from China, e.g. uphold universal values and cosmopolitanism. However, this localism neither shares a unified cultural imaginary and symbolic order nor a single operational logic. There are at least two major kinds of localism in Hong Kong, i.e. one whose logic is based on anti-China blaming of the immigrant (i.e. xenophobia and exclusionary politics), and one whose modus operandi is to rebuild local communities (i.e. based on progressive, participatory, democratic values of inclusion, diversity and empowerment of the weak). These two polarized localisms often coexist. The question is which one takes the lead or even becomes hegemonic in a situation or context. This article re-examines the emergence and transformation of localism in the last decade through participant observation in Hong Kong urban social movements. Instead of explaining why xenophobic localism (blaming the immigrant) becomes a dominant political power, we will take a closer look at the transformation of the progressive and recalcitrant “localism through community rebuilding movement,” or simply New Preservation Movement as the actually existing alternative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-453
Number of pages18
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Hong Kong
  • New Preservation Movement
  • community movement
  • democratization
  • localism


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