Co-organized by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre and Pen Hong Kong

Date:  Monday, 15 April 2019
Time: 6:30 – 8:00pm
Venue: Rayson Huang Theatre, Main Campus, The University of Hong Kong (Directions).

All are welcome. Please register here.

We will also be live-streaming on YouTube.

Journalists and scholars will share their findings on the anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations, about the Beijing government’s attempts to erase the Tiananmen Square crackdown from history, and how the events of that tragic day are reflected in collective memory, on social media, and in the reporting of the journalists who cover China today.


Tweets and Memories, Chinese censors are coming after me:  Forbidden voices of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on Sina Weibo, 2012-2018

Dr. King-wa Fu
Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong

Chinese authorities attempt, by all means, to suppress all forms of memories related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. The state can make the process difficult, but it can never entirely stop people from posting messages on social media, especially when the meaning behind such digital content is subtlety represented, purposely circumventing mechanical operations of keyword filters. This talk draws on the Weiboscope database at the University of Hong Kong and reviews the censored posts collected on June 3rd and June 4th of each year between 2012 and 2018. Observations will be made to examine the extent to which memory in the form of social media has been seen and erased even decades since the incident.


Memory in Movement: Collective Identity and Memory Contestation in Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Vigils

Dr. Edmund Cheng
Assistant Professor, Department of Government and International Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University

Dr. Samson Yuen
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Lingnan University

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 narrative of the past can maintain movement solidarity, this process is actively contested by multiple actors, which may weaken solidarity and disrupt mobilization. Using onsite-surveys, interviews and content analysis, this talk examines the three-decade-long commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen protests in Hong Kong to unpack the memory process in movements. We argue that collective identity building is shaped by the interaction between the repository of memory and the repertoires that expresses them. Although the performative repertoire of the candlelight vigil has long consolidated and given moral power to the crackdown memories, such repertoire is being contested by memory challengers with competing repertoires yet without disputing the memory repositories. Our findings thus point to the performative and filtering role of repertoires in reproducing collective memory. They also reveal a dynamic and nuanced relationship between collective memory and collective identity, with specific attention placed on the mediating factors at work.


Tiananmen at Thirty: Memory as an Act of Resistance in the People’s Republic of Amnesia

Louisa Lim
Senior Lecturer, Audio Visual Journalism, Centre for Advancing Journalism, The University of Melbourne

Thirty years after the brutal crackdown, the Tiananmen anniversary has become more–rather than less–politically sensitive as time has passed. Every year, the authorities use a range of tactics to suppress both the anniversary commemorations and journalistic reporting on them. New findings indicate that three quarters of China-based correspondents have received interference from the authorities in their Tiananmen reporting, yet adherence to journalistic norms means that harassment is often unreported. In this talk, Louisa Lim examines the ways in which the legacy of Tiananmen has been excised from the collective and institutional memory in today’s China, as well as looking at the cost of memory and the role that foreign correspondents play in shaping memories of June Fourth outside China.



Keith Richburg
Director, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong

28 February 2019

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