Archiving social movement memories amidst autocratization: a case study of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement Visual Archive
There has been a rise in archival activism, including the birth of social movement archives, leveraging marginalised communities’ voices, and challenging mainstream discourses. Through a case study of the Umbrella Movement Visual Archive (UMVA) in Hong Kong, this paper explores the risks faced by and the strategies of the archivists when preserving social movement objects amidst rapid autocratisation. Based on semi-structured interviews and documents analysis, this paper argues that autocratisation significantly restrains political opportunities for archival activism. When Hong Kong was relatively liberal before 2020, the UMVA encountered problems common in community archives in liberal democracies, such as sustainability crises and loss of public attention. Even so, archivists could still manage the risk by facilitating public communication and group solidarity. Nonetheless, the rapid autocratisation of Hong Kong since 2020 has created extreme political risks for archivists and the collection. Archivists could only migrate the archives overseas, resulting in public inaccessibility of the collection. While most extant literature on archival activism focuses on democratic or post-transitional context, this project offers an authoritarian-political perspective that tests the limits of the notion in the global wave of democratic backsliding.
1 Jan 2022 – 30 Nov 2022
Journal title, volume/issue number, page range
International Journal of Heritage Studies, 28/6, 733-751
International Relations and Politics
Art and Culture