Facilitating vigorous dialogue between Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement and the political theories of Hannah Arendt, The Appearing Demos theorizes a city-based democratic project that allows the city to coexist and share power with state sovereignty.


As the waves of Occupy movements gradually recede, we soon forget the political hope and passions these events have offered. Instead, we are increasingly entrenched in the simplified dichotomies of Left and Right, us and them, hating others and victimizing oneself. Studying Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, which might be the largest Occupy movement in recent years, The Appearing Demos urges us to re-commit to democracy at a time when democracy is failing on many fronts and in different parts of the world.
The 79-day-long Hong Kong Umbrella Movement occupied major streets in the busiest parts of the city, creating tremendous inconvenience to this city famous for capitalist order and efficiency. It was also a peaceful collective effort of appearance, and it was as much a political event as a cultural one. The urge for expressing an independent cultural identity underlined both the Occupy movement and the remarkably rich cultural expressions it generated. While understanding the specificity of Hong Kong’s situations, The Appearing Demos also comments on some global predicaments we are facing in the midst of neoliberalism and populism. It directs our attention from state-based sovereignty to city-based democracy, and emphasizes the importance of participation and cohabitation. The book also examines how the ideas of Hannah Arendt are useful to those happenings much beyond the political circumstances that gave rise to her theorization. The book pays particular attention to the actual intersubjective experiences during the protest. These experiences are local, fragile, and sometimes inarticulable, therefore resisting rationality and debates, but they define the fullness of any individual, and they also make politics possible. Using the Umbrella Movement as an example, this book examines the “freed” political agents who constantly take others into consideration in order to guarantee the political realm as a place without coercion and discrimination. In doing so, Pang Laikwan demonstrates how politics means neither to rule nor to be ruled, and these movements should be defined by hope, not by goals.

PANG Laikwan is Professor of Cultural Studies, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"The Appearing Demos is a refreshingly weighty and much-needed in-depth reflection and proposal on Hong Kong’s current climate."
Hong Kong Studies

- Ann Gillian Chu

"The Appearing Demos: Hong Kong During and After the Umbrella Movement,maintains its freshness, providing fruitful intellectual resources for readers to rethink the current situation of Hong Kong."
-Global Storytelling: Journal of Digital and Moving Images

- Enoch Yee-lok Tam

"Building on an insider’s firsthand experiences, The Appearing Demos provides great insights and is essential reading for students and scholars of social movements and collective action, as well as of Hong Kong and China studies." —CHOICE

- X. Li

"This book powerfully refines the meanings of the Umbrella Movement and makes a valuable contribution to the study of spatial practices and prefigurative politics... It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the unfinished cultural-political transitions of this semi-autonomous city along with the biographical consequences for a new generation of political actors who emerged from a spectacular protest event." - Edmund Cheng, China Quarterly

- Edmund Cheng

"Rich in detail, ambitious in scope, and refusing to shy away from the most pressing questions for Hong Kong’s protest generation, The Appearing Demos bears witness to one of the most important turning points in Hong Kong politics, and offers incisive commentary for those still struggling for democracy."
-Shuk Ying Chan, Theory & Event

- Shuk Ying Chang

ReadAppearing Demos was reviewed by Edmund Cheng for China Quarterly
Read: Appearing Demos was reviewed by Huang Cory Han-yu for National Taiwan Normal University 
Read: Appearing Demos was reviewed by Ho Ming-sho for National Taiwan University
Read: Appearing Demos was reviewed by Wong Nim-yan for Ming Pao News Network 
Read: Appearing Demos was reviewed by Lung Tze-wai for StandNews