Sunflowers and Umbrellas

Sunflowers and Umbrellas

Social Movements, Expressive Practices, and Political Culture in Taiwan and Hong Kong (CRM 76)

Thomas Gold, ed., Sebastian Veg, ed.

Publication date: 2020
ISBN-13 (print): 978-155729-191-2
ISBN-10 (print): 1-55729-191-8
ISBN-13 (e-book): 978-155729-192-9

View sample pages

This collection of papers on the Sunflower and Umbrella Movements brings together not only studies of Taiwan and Hong Kong, but also contributions from the social sciences and humanities. The volume compares and contrasts the two movements, which both occurred in 2014, focusing on their political dynamics, their expressive practices, and their immediate aftermath and potential long-term traces.

Give to IEAS Publications.
As a nonprofit academic press, we need your support to publish our books. Your gift can help us make more of our titles available as e-books.

Title information

The contributors to this volume discuss the similarities and differences between Taiwan's Sunflower Movement and Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement. The topics range from movement leadership and political party formation to tourism and art. Perspectives from both the social sciences and humanities are brought to the analysis of the events and their aftermath.
Edmund W. Cheng is associate professor in the Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong.
Thomas Gold is professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Brian Hioe is a freelance writer covering social movements and politics, and holds an MA in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University. He is based in Taipei.
Ming-sho Ho is professor in the Department of Sociology, National Taiwan University.
Chun-hao Huang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology, Tunghai University.
Wai-man Lam is associate professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Open University of Hong Kong.
Liang-ying Lin is a master’s student in the Department of Sociology, National Taiwan University.
Ngok Ma is associate professor in the Department of Government and Public Administration, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Lev Nachman is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of California, Irvine.
Judith Pernin is a researcher at the French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC), Hong Kong.
Ian Rowen is assistant professor of geography and urban planning in the School of Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Sebastian Veg is professor of the intellectual history of modern and contemporary China at EHESS, Paris.

Pages: 263
Language: English
Publisher: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
OCLC: 1183399978

Thomas Gold, ed.

Thomas Gold is professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sebastian Veg, ed.

Sebastian Veg is professor (directeur d’études) of intellectual history of twentieth-century China at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris, and an honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong.

China Research Monograph (CRM 76)

Preface and Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
Thomas Gold and Sebastian Veg
 1. Movement Leadership under a Polycentric Protest Structure 17
Edmund W. Cheng
 2. The Sunflower Imagination: The Movement Perception
and Evaluation from the Grassroots 42
Ming-sho Ho, Chun-hao Huang, Liang-ying Lin
 3. Hybridity, Civility, and Othering: In Search of Political Identity
and Activism in Hong Kong 68
Wai-man Lam
 4. Chinese Tourism as Trigger and Target of the Sunflower
and Umbrella Movements 96
Ian Rowen
 5. Visuality and Aurality in the Sunflower Movement:
Precedents for Politics as Spectacle in Taiwan 114
Brian Hioe
 6. Music in the Umbrella Movement: From Expressive Form
to New Political Culture 147
Sebastian Veg
 7. Protest Documentaries in Taiwan and Hong Kong:
From the Late 1980s to the Sunflower and Umbrella Movements 176
Judith Pernin
 8. From Sunflowers to Suits: How Spatial Openings Affect
Movement Party Formation 200
Lev Nachman
 9. The Plebeian Moment and Its Traces: Post–Umbrella Movement
Professional Groups in Hong Kong 228
Ngok Ma
 Contributors 254
Index 255


“A fine and welcomed collection that sheds new lights on two iconic popular movements in contemporary Asia. Capturing the Sunflower and Umbrella Movements’ organization dynamics, expressive politics and political outcomes in granular details, this volume advances a much needed comparative agenda for social movement studies.” ~Ching Kwan Lee, University of California, Los Angeles

“This volume showcases fascinating new work by an engaging mix of established and junior scholars of the social sciences and humanities. The book opens with an exemplary introduction by the editors and is especially good at highlighting the expressive and symbolic sides of struggles for change. Sunflowers and Umbrellas  shows how valuable it can be to place the 2014 events in Taiwan and Hong Kong side-by-side in a way that, while acknowledging the differences
between the movements, points out their similarities and connections.” ~Jeffrey Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine

“The chapters in this volume illuminate two important new social movements by focusing on their cultural and symbolic dimensions. Expertly edited by two distinguished scholars of youth, intellectuals and political activism, this book makes an important contribution to the meaning of media and political culture in contemporary social movements.” ~Guobin Yang, University of Pennsylvania


“For such momentous events, there is not yet a commensurately substantial body of academic literature…. This volume therefore represents a valuable contribution, with a novel comparative perspective on both movements as ‘participative performances that mobilized cultural frames to act out new forms of civic identity and community deliberation’ (p. 14).  The editors promise a more granular approach to the dynamics and texture of each movement, an appreciation of the spatial dynamics whereby public spaces were reappropriated and reorganized, and the spectacular expressive dimensions manifest in artwork, artefacts and ephemera through which claims were articulated.” ~Jonathan Sullivan, University of Nottingham, in The China Quarterly, July 2021.(

"Editors Thomas Gold and Sebastian Veg seek to go 'beyond social movement theory' (p. 7) because both movements 'displayed a spectacular expressive dimension' with participants 'articulating claims through artwork and ephemera' and 'act[ing] out the deeper changes in identity and political culture' (pp. 5, 9). Contributors conducted research through structured interviews, participant observations, and examination of artworks and archives. The analyses should be of interest to students of comparative social movements and Chinese politics." ~Victoria Tin‑bor Hui, University of Notre Dame, in Journal of Chinese Political Science (2021) 26:779–780 (

"The book raises many stimulating questions about the future of grassroots political movements both in Taiwan, an island increasingly threatened by the People’s Liberation Army, and Hong Kong, where Xi Jinping since 2020 has imposed a more authoritarian 'new normal' on its political elite and civil society as a whole.... All in all, this book should be read by people interested in the social movements, new forms of political activism, and changing political cultures in the Chinese world." ~Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Hong Kong Baptist University, in The China Journal (Jan. 2022) 87:202 7204 (

"This edited volume provides a robust, comparative and cross-disciplinary analysis of the origins, processes and impacts of the two anti-authoritarian movements against China in 2014. This book will appeal to political scientists, sociologists, and those interested in the contemporary history of Chinese politics and East Asian geopolitics." ~Yan-ho Lai, Center for Asian Law, Georgetown University Law Center, in The Journal of Development Studies, 2022 (

"The nuanced contributions in this excellent edited volume elucidate how movement participants enacted their democratic hopes, visions, and identities at critical times in the history of these societies.... What sets this book apart is its imaginative framework; the editors have done a great job at tying the various contributions together and situating them within the social movement literature." ~Leon N. Kunz, The University of Texas at Austin, in Pacific Affairs, vol. 95, no. 3 (Sep. 2022).

"The book offers empirically extremely rich materials, and the thick descriptions of the movement spaces and developments on the ground allow the reader to feel connected to participants and leaders in the movements. Indeed, the recognition that emotions are at the forefront or provide crucial context links the different examinations." ~Malte Philipp Kaeding, University of Surrey, in China Perspectives, 2022/1 | 2022, 82-83.