Memory in movement: Collective identity and memory contestation in Hong Kong's tiananmen vigils

Edmund CHENG, Samson YUEN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Collective memory shapes collective identity in social movements, yet the cultural process of transforming collective memory into collective identity and actions is anything but linear. While preserving an established historical narrative can maintain movement solidarity, this process is actively contested by multiple actors, which may weaken solidarity and disrupt mobilization. Why does the memory process facilitate collective identity building at one point but not another? What accounts for its success and failure in mobilizing through memories? This article studies the three-decade commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen protests in Hong Kong to unpack the memory making in movements. We argue that collective-identity building is shaped by the interaction between the repository of memories and the repertoires expressing them. Although the performative repertoire of the vigil has long bestowed moral power to memories of the Tiananmen crackdown, this repertoire is contested by competing repertoires, even though the memory itself is not disputed. Our findings highlight the performative and filtering role of repertoires in reproducing collective memory. They also reveal a dynamic and nuanced relationship between collective memory and identity, especially the mediating factors at work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-437
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Memory in movement: Collective identity and memory contestation in Hong Kong's tiananmen vigils'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this