Launch of Critique special issue- “Hong Kong prend le large”


 Librairie Parenthèses, 2F, Duke of Wellington House, 14-24 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong

Critique Special Issue


Sebastian Veg, Jean-Philippe Béja, Judith Pernin


Since the handover (return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997), Hong Kong has experienced a unique political and cultural situation. While a certain consensus prevailed within Hong Kong society to put an end to the injustices of the colonial era, the idea of being directly controlled by Beijing, especially after the repression of the 1989 student movement, provoked much anxiety, entailing mass emigration throughout the 1990s. Since 1997, while the most extreme fears have proven baseless, Beijing’s growing influence, often clumsily exerted on the Hong Kong government, has given rise to discourse claiming a distinct Hong Kong identity. This discourse is underpinned by the specificities of Cantonese culture, by a particular historical experience, in which colonialism has given a strong legitimacy to the institutions of liberal democracy, and by an extremely vital civil society, which feeds the struggle for representative democracy. Somewhat similarly to Taiwan in the 1980s, it is interesting to observe that the demands for a democratization of the institutional framework are accompanied by a strong claim to cultural identity (in Taiwan this went so far as a distinct national identity discourse), calling into question the notion of a unified “Chinese” nation and the uniqueness of its historical expression in the form of a centralized nation-state. The 2000s have thus been characterized by both recurrent social movements around specific problems (article 23, universal suffrage, school programs) and an intellectual debate over the possibility of a democratic experiment in a distinct, yet culturally Chinese, territory. Through a set of unpublished contributions, this issue showcases the intellectual debates that have taken place since the handover.

Guest editor: Sebastian Veg.

Contributions by: Dung Kai-cheung (translated by Sebastian Veg), Robert Bauer, Jean-Philippe Béja, Evans Chan, Edmund W. Cheng, Chloé Froissart, Ho-Fung Hung, Karita Kan, Wing-sang Law, Judith Pernin.

For more information about this issue, please click here:

Read the guest editor’s introduction (free access):


This seminar will be held in French. 

Snacks and drinks will be served after the seminar.













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