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From helmets to face masks: how collective emotions sustain diaspora mobilization from homeland uprising to global pandemic among the Hong Kongers

Kennedy Chi-Pan Wong (Department of Sociology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Social Transformations in Chinese Societies

ISSN: 1871-2673

Article publication date: 26 May 2021

Issue publication date: 27 October 2021




Diasporic mobilization studies often incorporate collective emotions into the discussion of movement strategies, less we knew about how emotion becomes the language by which they communicate collective responsibility after the protests. The purpose of this paper is to draw from participant observation research to explore how diasporas construct the language of collective emotions to sustain their commitment to the transnational mobilization project during and after the homeland protests.


Drawing on ten months of participant observations in the USA, the author observed how members in a Hong Kong diaspora group, Black Bauhinia Society (BBS), transform their project from a transnational protective gear sourcing action during the Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Bill Movement into a global medical personal protective equipment (PPE) sourcing action during the COVID-19 pandemic.


During homeland uprising, BBS recruits participants using a set of compassion language that encompasses the suffering stories of homeland dissidents and the members’ expression of guiltiness for staying afar. The compassion talk reinforces the transnational ties between BBS members and Hong Kong dissidents over the process of resource mobilization. When the homeland movement ceased during the pandemic, BBS transformed their compassion talk to politicize charitable actions and recruit volunteers and donors to source PPE for Hong Kong.


This paper contributes to the emerging discussion on how diaspora mobilizes after the protest by showing how the language of collective emotion cultivates commitments and sustain collective identity after the protests.



The author is hugely indebted to his research participants, the Hong Kong political dissidents and the diasporas, especially those who are facing political prosecutions in Hong Kong. The author thanks Social Transformations in Chinese Societies editor for inviting him to contribute to this special issue. He also thanks Paul Lichterman, Hajar Yazdiha, Kerry Greer, Alex Chow and the anonymous reviewers for providing constructive feedback on an earlier draft of this paper. Moreover, he thanks Nina Eliasoph, Miu Chung Yan, Thuan Nguyen, Gianne Sheena Sabio, Kritika Pandey, Maria Labourt, Demetrius Murphy, Minwoo Jung and Winnie Tse for their contributions to the development of this project.


Wong, K.C.-P. (2021), "From helmets to face masks: how collective emotions sustain diaspora mobilization from homeland uprising to global pandemic among the Hong Kongers", Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 117-126.



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