Round Table jointly organized by Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS, Paris), the University of Hong Kong and the CEFC
The last five years have seen a wave of social movements spanning the developed North and the developing South, the post-communist East and the capitalist West. While the Arab Springs began with a spontaneous movement against a strongly personalized dictatorship in Tunisia in late 2010, Occupy Wall Street in 2011 targeted financial capitalism in the name of the “1 per cent,” and Ukraine’s Maidan movement was directed against corruption, authoritarianism, as well as Russian influence. Hong Kong’s Umbrella movement in 2014 incorporated both a strong demand for formal democracy and a utopian critique of post-colonial crony capitalism.
Although these movements share some obvious similarities, in particular their use of social media to mobilize “ordinary citizens,” it is unclear whether their political objectives are the same. The political environments in which they took place range from authoritarian dictatorships to liberal democracies, at very different levels of socio-economic development. However, many of the movements also put forward similar critiques of capitalism and demands for more substantive democracy, suggesting that democratic ideals still contain a potential for critical confrontation with both authoritarian regimes and oligarchic capitalism.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the School of Advanced Studies in Social Science (EHESS), Paris and to mark its collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences, HKU and the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC), we will organize a round table with a live video link, bringing together specialists of different geographical and political environments to discuss the social movements that have emerged recently and compare their structural similarities, their possible reciprocal influence and their potential results or consequences.
This round table is part of a series of events marking the 40th anniversary of the EHESS.
SPEAKERS IN HONG KONG
Head of Department of Politics and Public Administration and Professor at the University of Hong Kong. Her current research interests are the politics of social policy development, civil society organizations, participatory governance, public management and gender, with particular focus on Hong Kong and its comparison with selected Asian states.
Associate Professor of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His recent work has been on contentious politics, civil society and democracy, with a focus on China and Hong Kong. He is also very active in the democracy movement in Hong Kong and was one of the organisers of the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
Petula Sik Ying Ho
Associate Professor of Social Work and Administration at the University of Hong Kong. She has organized two groups in response to the Umbrella movement and published Everyday Life in the Era of Resistance and Umbrella Politics Quartet (2015).
SPEAKERS IN FRANCE
Professor at the EHESS and member of its Centre for Studies on the Russian, Caucasian and Central European worlds. Her research is devoted to the relations between state and society in Russia, in particular the forms of either liberal or coercive political domination at work in different sectors: the military,civil society and the media.
Assistant professor of Information and Communication studies at the University of Lille 3, affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Social Movements (CEMS) at the EHESS. Specializing in the sociology of media, he has recently published several articles on the Arab revolution in collaboration with Smaïn Laacher.
Professor at the EHESS and member of the Centre for Studies on Modern and Contemporary China. A sociologist, she has recently focused on the sociology of legal norms in both rural and urban China, as well as on types of coordination in rural communities.
The round table was chaired by David Palmer (HKU) and Sebastian Veg (CEFC, EHESS) in Hong Kong and Cyril Lemieux (EHESS) in Paris.
Pictures: courtesy of the University of Hong Kong