Academic Work

"Hong Kong’s Vehicles of Democracy:

The Vernacular Monumentality of Buses During the Umbrella Revolution” 

Paper published in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 2019, doi: 10.1080/17513057.2019.1646789.


Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution saw some of the city's busiest streets transformed into temporary sites of artistic expression and freedom. This essay explores the everyday items were turned into in-situ tools of protest – in particular, the subversive use of double-decker buses. I analyze how a number of double-decker buses were transformed from a form of moving rhetoric into static, vernacular monuments representing Hong Kong's history and serving as democratic billboards. Through the display of Hong Kong's present (mainlandization), past (colonization), and future (democracy), the city's protesters were, I suggest, able to communicate their fears about the increasing effects of mainlandization in an attempt to shift Hong Kong's political possibilities.

“Urban Planning as Protest and Public Engagement:

Reimagining Mong Kok as an Ecocity"

To be published in “Green Communication and China: On Crisis, Care, and Global Futures,” Jingfang Liu & Phaedra C. Pezzullo (eds.). (2020), Michigan State University Press.

Paper presented at the CUC-NCA Conference on Communication, Media, and Governance in the Age of Communication, Beijing, China, June, 2018.



In this essay, I investigate Green Mong Kok: An Umbrella Revolution-inspired architectural blueprint for an environmentally friendly and democratic space in Hong Kong. My analysis suggests, however, that while Chan’s GMK offers a stunning future vision for one part of Hong Kong, it also may be infused with lingering notions of class and social hierarchy, which were two of the key injustices that led to the Umbrella Revolution in the first place.13 Nonetheless, I argue that Chan’s urban plan can be interpreted as a tool of protest and as a site of public engagement worthy of attention for environmental communication in China and beyond.

“Convergence and Fragmentation in the Umbrella Revolution:

A Rhetorical Analysis of the Mainlandization of Hong Kong” 

To be published in “Communication Convergencein Contemporary China: Politics, Platforms, and Participation,” by Dodge, P. S. W. (eds.) (2020), Michigan State University Press.

Paper presented to the Rhetoric and Public Address Division of the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association convention, San Diego, CA, February, 2016.



Although most Western and local news coverage of the Umbrella Revolution focused on Hong Kong’s desire for democracy and genuine universal suffrage, a return trip I took to Hong Kong (where I had previously lived for three years) six-months after the end of the occupation of city’s streets revealed that, for some, electoral restrictions are, in fact, not the main root of dissatisfaction in Hong Kong. Rather, as will be explored throughout this chapter, the combination of rising rent prices, CPC controls on free speech, a wide-spread clampdown on universities, run-away consumerism fueled by Chinese shoppers from the mainland, concerns over health care, and more, have led to deep anger, frustration, and resentment among the city’s seven million residents. Throughout this chapter, I refer to these complicated and overlapping causes for political anger under the notion of “mainlandization,” which suggests that Hong Kong’s long-standing sense of itself as an independent entity is now threatened by encroachments from China and its governance of the city.

“Everyone Could be Batman:

The Function of Superheroes in Protest”

Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association Convention, Dallas, TX, November 2017. 


Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution was nine-days old when “five masked men” unfurled a banner over a bridge that leads from the Hong Kong government headquarters to the city’s Pacific Place shopping mall.1 Spray-painted in black above the recognizable shape of a faceless bat, the sign stated: “Everyone Could be Batman.

I explore the global phenomenon and universal appeal of superheroes as cultural texts and draw on previous research focusing on the prominent and increasing use of comic book characters in times of unrest, including the growing salience of Hong Kong’s appropriation of superheroes. I argue that Hong Kongers appropriation and excorporation of Batman’s ideology is rooted in my assertion that the relationship between Batman and the Joker acts as an allegory for Hong Kong’s complicated and often fractious relationship with mainland China

Romancing the Chinese Identity:

Rhetorical Strategies Used to Facilitate Identification in the Handover of Hong Kong”

Published in Foss, S. K. (2016). Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice, 5th ed., Long Grove, IL: Waveland.


Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association, Spokane, WA, February, 2015. Received Top Student Paper Award.



In this paper, I analyze the speech of the Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, at the handover ceremony of Hong Kong to China in 1997 to discover how Jiang attempted to entice the citizens of Hong Kong to adopt a Chinese identity. My analysis led to the development of a schema comprised of four tenets that form a communication strategy for the adoption of a new national identity following the narrative of a romantic relationship. I propose that this strategy may be used to facilitate the engagement of national identity in times of conflict and uncertainty in the future.


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