Stacy Lo

MEME CULTURE

My presentation is about a ‘meme culture’ that took place during Hong Kong’s 2019–2020 protest movement. Ignited by the city government’s attempt to pass a bill to allow extradition to mainland China, protesters mobilized in extraordinary ways. Inspired by a quote from the homegrown action hero Bruce Lee, ‘Water can flow or it can crash’, the protests became widely known as the ‘Be Water’ Movement. The guiding principle of the ‘Be Water’ Movement instructed its followers to flow swiftly to all parts of the city (and the world) and stage pop-up protests, rather than fixate on the conventional way of ‘occupying’ landmarks. Memes that spread from phone to phone were a major means through which the Movement was kept alive and flowing, as the participants taught themselves to communicate obliquely across different domains under the radar in an environment of heightened surveillance and censorship. I am interested in how one communicates and evades capture—physically and metaphorically—under these circumstances.

Stacy Lo
© Stacy Lo

Hsiu-ju Stacy Lo graduated with a PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from Columbia University in New York City. After that, she held a postdoctoral fellowship in history at Peking University in China from 2019 to 2020. She currently works as a fulltime researcher at the International Centre for Cultural Studies, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.