Kennedy Chi-pan Wong

I am a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Southern California. As an international student born and raised in Hong Kong, I am deeply interested in how immigrants engage in anti-authoritarianism politics in their homeland, their residing country, and other places in the world. My research examines how Hongkongers migrants in the US and Canada engage in activism against autocratic regimes. 

Along this line of research, I have been publishing and working on a number of research papers. My first peer-reviewed article, “From Helmets to Face masks,” documented how Hongkongers in the US foster their commitments to homeland resistance through resource mobilization projects during and after the 2019 Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Bill movement. My second paper, “Leaving the Homeland Again for My family’s Futures,” studies the post-return Hongkonger migrants who have been living in both Hong Kong (homeland) and Canada (hostland) for years over their life course. Having these transnational experiences, it is important to recognize that immigrants are also political and civic actors in the hostland society and the global civil society.

Looking at immigrants as “actors” for global changes, instead of merely a demographic population outcome of political turmoil, my upcoming paper “how should we talk about 'we'” looks at how immigrants build coalitions with other immigrants who originate from states under the threat of war and authoritarianism. Using a constructivist multi-locale approach, I show how universal, multi-national, and national solidarity could co-exist in migrant activism when they build connections to different actors in the homeland, hostland, and beyond. 

Extending this line of research to my current dissertation project, I investigate how Hongkonger migrants in the US and Canada organize different forms of activism and coalition project to fight authoritarianism. On the one hand, these international migrants seek to move their homeland resistances beyond the borders. On the other hand, with the ongoing deterioration of the Western democratic states, these international migrants often also found themselves entrapped in the political polarizations and xenophobic sentiments in their resettled countries. How do international migrants engage in activism against autocratic regimes while navigating the political polarization in their resettled countries? Previous studies often made organizational assumptions about migrant ‘groups’ based on their shared homeland orientation, immigrant status, ethnicity, or nationalities. Little attention has been paid to when and how these categories could co-exist in the organizational processes. In my dissertation project, I aim to develop a new framework to study diaspora politics that does not essentialize diaspora migrants and the formation of international solidarities as politically or culturally monotone identity entities.