May 09 2023


4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Department of Comparative Literature

Department of Comparative Literature

Roundtable Discussion
After Autonomy: A Post-Mortem for Hong Kong’s first Handover, 1997–2019

Dan Vukovich, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Comparative Literature, HKU


Daniel Bell, Professor and Chair of Political Theory, Faculty of Law, HKU

Simon Young, Professor and Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Law, HKU

Date: Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Time: 4:00-5:30 pm (Hong Kong Time)
Venue: Face-to-Face and on Zoom

All are welcome. Registration is required.

“After Autonomy: A Post-Mortem for Hong Kong’s First Handover, 1997-2019”  (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) offers a critical analysis of the rise and fall of the 2019 anti-extradition bill movement in Hong Kong, including prior events like Occupy Central and the Mongkok Fishball Revolution, as well as their aftermaths in light of the re-assertion of mainland sovereignty over the SAR and the onset of what has been locally dubbed as the ‘second handover.’ Vukovich reads the conflict against the grain of those who would romanticize it as a spontaneous outburst of the desire for freedom from mainland oppression and for a self-explanatory democracy, on the one hand, and on the other hand of those who would dismiss  the protests in nationalistic or conspiratorial anti-imperialist fashion. Instead the book attempts to go beyond mediatized discourse to disentangle 2019’s and the SAR’s roots in the Basic Law system as well as in the colonial and insufficiently post-colonial contexts and dynamics of Hong Kong. Vukovich examines the question of localist identity and its discontents (particularly the rise of xenophobia), the problems of nativism, violence, and liberalism, the impossibility of autonomy, and what forms a genuine de-colonization can and might yet take in the city. A concluding chapter examines Hong Kong’s need for state capacity and proper, livelihood development, in the light of the Omicron wave of the Covid pandemic, as the SAR goes forward into a second handover. The book is an intervention into the study of Hong Kong and global politics as well as into critical theory and post-colonial studies.

Dan Vukovich (胡德) is an inter-disciplinary scholar who works on issues of post-colonialism, politics, and critical theory in relation to the China-West relationship. He is currently Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature within the School of Humanities, and an Advisory Research Fellow at Southeast University (东南大学) in Nanjing (School of Marxism) and a virtual Visiting Professor of Politics at East China Normal University (华东师范大学). He is the author of three monographs, including “China and Orientalism: Western Knowledge Production and the PRC” (Routledge 2012), “Illiberal China: The Ideological Challenge of the P.R.C.” (Palgrave 2019) and most recently “After Autonomy: A Post-Mortem for Hong Kong’s first Handover, 1997–2019” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022).

Daniel A. Bell (貝淡寧) is a Professor and Chair of Political Theory with the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong. He served as Dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University (Qingdao) from 2017 to 2022. His books include “The Dean of Shandong” (2023), “Just Hierarchy” (co-authored with Wang Pei, 2020), “The China Model” (2015), “The Spirit of Cities” (co-authored with Avner de-Shalit, 2012), “China’s New Confucianism” (2008), “Beyond Liberal Democracy” (2007), and “East Meets West” (2000), all published by Princeton University Press.

Simon Young (楊艾文) is a Professor and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Law and Deputy Director for Education and Development of Research Integrity in The University of Hong Kong. He serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the “Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law” (Brill) and General Editor of “Archbold Hong Kong” (Sweet & Maxwell). His empirical and comparative law research has explored important aspects of Hong Kong’s constitutional order including the National Security Law, the Court of Final Appeal, the system of electing the Chief Executive, and functional constituencies of the Legislative Council.

Enquiries: Georgina Challen –


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