Informed Perspectives: Rethinking the Spirituality of Hong Kong Protests

Feb 10

6:00 pm - 7:15 pm

Zoom Webinar

Throughout Hong Kong’s long history of protest, religious rituals and icons have been instrumental in supporting a diverse community of protesters. What other roles does religion play in Hong Kong protests? How do religion and democracy inform each other and shape the identity of protesters? How can the media amplify these dynamics?

Join UVA PhD students Clara Ma and Matthew Slaats as they bring together religious studies scholar Ting Guo, lawyer and author Antony Dapiran, Miller Center’s Compton Visiting Professor in World Politics Syaru Shirley Lin, and This American Life Executive Editor Emanuele Berry, to discuss how religion and protest are playing an important role in the ever-shifting political landscape in Hong Kong.

Above: Faithful sing religious songs outside the Legislative Council building as they protest a proposed extradition bill with China in Hong Kong, China June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter © REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo


Emanuele Berry

Emanuele Berry came to This American Life from Gimlet Media. There she worked on several shows including The NodUndone and StartUp. Previously, Emanuele worked as a public radio reporter in Michigan and Missouri. Emanuele is a 2014 AIR New Voices Scholar. She is also the recipient of a 2015 Fulbright award to Macau, China. In October of 2019, she produced a show with This American Life called Umbrella’s Up detailing the experience of Hong Kong protest from the ground. 


Antony Dapiran

Antony Dapiran is a Hong Kong-based writer and lawyer, and the author of two books on Hong Kong, including his most recent, City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong (Scribe, 2020). His writing on Hong Kong and China politics, culture and business has appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New Statesman, Foreign Policy and elsewhere. He is a regular guest on CNN, CNBC and the BBC, and his expert commentary has been widely quoted by leading media outlets across the globe. A fluent Mandarin speaker, Antony has resided between Hong Kong and Beijing for over twenty years.


Ting Guo

Ting Guo is currently based at the University of Hong Kong, focusing on (post)secularism and political religion, including issues of gender and technology. She gained her PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh and was research fellow at Oxford and Purdue Universities. Her article on Alan Turing, spirituality, and European secularism made the cover of Anthropology Today. She is writing a book on love as a political discourse in modern China.​


Syaru Shirley Lin

Syaru Shirley Lin is Compton Visiting Professor in World Politics at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. She is also a member of the founding faculty of the master’s program in global political economy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her main research interests include international and comparative political economy, national identity, Asian regionalism and cross-Strait relations. Her book, Taiwan’s China Dilemma: Contested Identities and Multiple Interests in Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Economic Policy, was published by Stanford University Press in 2016 and in Chinese in 2019.  Her current research project is focused on the challenges facing East Asian economies in the high-income trap.  Her commentaries frequently appear in both English and Chinese media. She graduated cum laude from Harvard College and earned her masters in international public affairs and Ph.D. in politics and public administration from the University of Hong Kong.

Informed Perspectives brings together scholars, journalists, and documentarians to explore the relationship between religion, race, and politics.

Sponsored by the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs.

Additional Resources

Dapiran, Antony. 2017. City of Protest: A Recent History of Dissent in Hong Kong. London: Penguin Books.

Dapiran, Antony. 2020. City on Fire: the Fight for Hong Kong. Melbourne: Scribe Publications.

Guo, Ting. “Beyond Sing Hallelujah to the Lord: Colonialism, Cold War, Identity-Transformation, and Hong Kong Protests from the Perspective of Religion.” Fairbank Center Blog, Harvard University,  July 12, 2019, https://medium.com/fairbank-center/hong-kong-protests-8454768b1897

Glass, Ira and Emanuele Berry, hosts. “Umbrellas Up.” This American Life (podcast). October 18, 2019. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/686/umbrellas-up

Lee, Francis L. F. et al. 2019 “Hong Kong’s Summer of Uprising: From Anti-Extradition to Anti-Authoritarian Protests” China Review 19, no. 4. 1-32.

From Water to Air: The Spirituality of Protest in Hong Kong

With PhD students Clara Ma and Matthew Slaats, we explore the central role that religion played in Hong Kong’s protests amidst the proposal of a new extradition bill. The so-called Fugitives Bill, allows Hong Kong to detain and transfer people wanted in countries and territories with which it has no formal extradition agreements, including Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.