Sounding Resistance: Music, Memory and the Pro-Democracy Struggle in Hong Kong from 2014 to 2016

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


This thesis examines music as resistance in Hong Kong from 2014 to 2016 across both offline and online performance contexts. The strategic choices or co-optation of musical material, aesthetic devices, and constructions of meaning, are analysed in their support of pro-democratic political rhetoric and relevance within popular cultural history. Specifically, I integrate theoretical approaches from ethnomusicology, performance studies, and memory studies to explore the interdependency between resistance music, cultural memory, and the struggle for democratic reform in Hong Kong.

While much cross-disciplinary scholarship on resistance music has addressed key issues of identity, representation, documentation and agency, interactions of cultural memory in resistance music performance have been largely neglected, in spite of the agentive possibilities this dynamic can entail. This study incorporates data collected via a variety of qualitative data collection methods: On-site fieldwork, participant observation, musical analysis, interviews and research of primary and secondary sources. Since the body of participants is variable in each performance context, I gauge the receptivity of resistance music via factors such as frequency of use, variety of contexts of use, participation in performance, online viewership and circulation, local/international media attention, and general discourse. I contend that performance strategies of music as resistance in contexts of political protest can serve to construct a critical political discourse in Hong Kong; a city which faces increasing pressure upon civil liberties. This research could contribute to current ethnomusicological perspectives on music and socio-political agency by critically assessing the role of music in the sustainability of political movements, and in the struggle to realise alternative political realities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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