Isha Ting's book project seeks to understand Hong Kong's political radicalization through a focused study of its culture and society since its handover to China in 1997. Bringing literature, cinema, art, and popular culture together with multiple social movements that transpired in the past two decades, her analyses shed light on how action and discourse co-create a new social imagination regarding the city, citizens, and democratic life, which then inspire and inform subsequent social movements. By paying close attention to the circulation of ideas, imaginaries, and symbolism between cultural production and political action, her work provides an interdisciplinary perspective indispensable to understanding how the political is perceived and experienced, how it appears and persists against the city's existential threat of disappearance, in the most tumultuous period in Hong Kong history.
Isha's project documents the political and cultural activism of the past two decades and examines how the political transforms from a spectral apparition to full-scale political theatre in which the people appear as proper political subjects during the mass uprisings in 2014 and 2019. She addresses the consolidation of the political and this social imaginary by highlighting various efforts at place-making by local communities, as the politics of land and identity bring together many vexing issues such as cultural heritage and urban development, social disparity and democracy, national integration and local priority. The second part focuses on the urban uprisings in the 2010s to consider how the city is increasingly imagined as a distinctive unit, complete upon itself, with soft or hard borders. Attending to the divergent formulations of Hong Kong identity capsulated by the notion of "home" and reflecting on the fissures and inconsistencies embedded in the city's struggle for democracy, her book speaks to the capability and limitation of the city as a site for the claiming of rights and exercise of democracy, in its centrifugal formation vis-à-vis the nation and in its global connections surpassing state circumscription.