In a social movement beset by internal divisions even as it confronts an ever-escalating crackdown, the meaning of “militancy” in Hong Kong has taken on conflicting if not antagonistic dimensions in the years since the protests of 2019. These “field notes” attempt to chart a course through the ins and outs of organizing on the ground and from a distance through the work of the Lausan Collective, tracking its epoch-making aesthetics and practices of militancy. As a prioritized ethic and moral-political compass that has aligned seamlessly with not only the mainstream liberal currents of the 2019 uprising but also with a storied postcolonial tradition of bourgeois Han centrism in Hong Kong identity formation, the legacy of militancy remains inextricably tied to valorized masculinist and techno-orientalist imaginaries of dissent, as well as a readiness to invoke sympathetic affect, or “heartbreak,” to sanction modes of injury and sacrifice and to allocate activist merit. Instead, Lausan Collective puts forward translation as a militant practice—a reciprocal and persistent mode of survival and solidarity that endures beyond and despite a visuality of valiance and the dominant affective orders of “heartbreak liberalism.”

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