Traces of Protest


my thanks to
Matthew Lasner
Swati Chattopadhyay
Min Kyung Lee

Traces of Protest and Curb-Scale Infrastructures in Hong Kong

Sometime in 2019 at the university where I teach in Hong Kong, students began a Lennon Wall. The wall took shape alongside University Street, a pedestrian walkway pinned onto the hillside that linked campus buildings to a public entrance of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Like Lennon Walls all over the city, this one was covered with post-its, printed sheets of paper, posters, objects, and painted words. Messages were directed toward government policies and the university administration.

The wall stayed up long after others had been scrubbed. It was only in the fall of 2020, with the National Security Law several months in place, that the administration took everything down. Immediately after this tidying up, the length of University Street near the MTR entrance was blocked with water-filled barricades. These barriers are everywhere now—cordoning off police stations, banks, and some government buildings. There is a photograph circulating on social media of water emptying in a thin arc from one such barricade; someone had pierced a small hole into its thick plastic wall.