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Take Back Our FutureAn Eventful Sociology of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement$
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Ching Kwan Lee and Ming Sing

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501740916

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501740916.001.0001

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Prefigurative Politics of the Umbrella Movement

Prefigurative Politics of the Umbrella Movement

An Ethnography of Its Promise and Predicament

Chapter:
(p.34) 2 Prefigurative Politics of the Umbrella Movement
Source:
Take Back Our Future
Author(s):

Alex Yong Kang Chow

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501740916.003.0002

This chapter discusses how the Umbrella Movement was an instance of prefigurative politics. Prefigurative politics refers to political actions or movements in which political ideals are experimentally realized in the “here and now,” in which activists attempt to construct aspects of the ideal society envisioned in the present, rather than waiting for them to be realized in a distant future. It means that political principles are embodied in current behavior, not put on hold until the time is deemed right for them to be deployed. Analyzing the everyday culture of the seventy-nine-day occupation through the lens of prefigurative politics, the chapter then shows two salient dynamics that propelled and fractured the movement. First, occupiers built an alternative urban commons that embraced equality, sharing, and solidarity in everyday life, envisioning a utopian socioeconomic order different from the existing one in Hong Kong. Second, throughout the movement, occupiers and leaders struggled with the idea and practice of leadership. The predicament of ambivalent, ambiguous, and fragmented leadership in what some protesters deemed a “leaderless” movement led to indecision at several critical junctures of the movement.

Keywords:   Umbrella Movement, prefigurative politics, political ideals, activists, political principles, Hong Kong, leadership, political actions, ideal society, everyday culture

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