Liminal space and place-fixing in urban activism
ABSTRACT The past 10 years witnessed a resurgence of youth activism in East Asia. While some may consider it as simply reflecting a broader, general trend of young people reacting to the neoliberalizing world, this paper pays special attention to the changing cultural geographies of East Asia that underlie part of the picture. In 2014, the Sun Flower movement in Taiwan was triggered by a group of young people who occupied the Legislative Yuan, paralyzed the establishment for 23 days, and brought about alternative politics, which soon was echoed by the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong during 26 September to 15 December the same year. This paper is interested in understanding how young people, walking away from the aforementioned urban uprising with their memories of participating in a sort of exceptional city for short time, carried on their aspiration for alternatives in their everyday lives. Finding inspiration from Victor Turner’s notion of liminoid and anti-structure, it attends to the activism embedded in everyday life. It also attends to the translocal, transnational interaction among young actors across cities in East Asia, with a focus on the act of place-fixing, which enables connection, collaboration, and circulation (of resources) through materialistic, transactive practices and can be compared to place-making.
KEYWORDS: Liminoid space; place-fixing; urban activism; Hong Kong; Taiwan
Shu-Mei Huang is Assistant Professor at the Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University. Her research interests include postcolonial urbanism, trans-nationalization of care and space, and dark heritage. She has carried out research into defunct prisons built by the colonial regimes in several East Asian cities, including Taipei, Seoul, Singapore and Lushun. In collaboration with Hyun Kyung Lee, she is preparing for a monograph titled Memory and Punishment: Remembering and Representing Imprisonment in the Preservation of De-commissioned Prisons in East Asia (contracted with Routledge). She is author of Urbanizing Carescapes of Hong Kong: Two Systems, One City (2015, by Lexington Books).