Department of Politics and International Studies

Paul Kaletsch

Key information

Department of Politics and International Studies PhD researcher
MRes Politics with Japanese (SOAS), BSc International Business (Maastricht University)
Email address
Thesis title
Reconceptualizing Resistance in Light of the End and Failure of Hong Kong’s 2014 Protests
Internal Supervisors
Dr Felix Berenskötter & Dr Carlo Bonura


Paul (he/him/his) recently submitted his thesis and is now waiting for his viva. Since 2019/20 he is a guest researcher with the International Graduate Center for the Study of Culture (GCSC) of the University of Giessen. He is a regular member of the GCSC’s Research Area 3: Cultural Transformation and Performativity Studies. In 2020, he published a book review of David Chiavacci and Julia Obinger’s edited volume “Social Movements and Political Activism in Contemporary Japan” in KULT_online. In the academic year 2018/2019, he was awarded the Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship. From 2018 until 2019, Paul conducted extensive fieldwork in Tokyo and Hong Kong (primarily semi-structured interviews with former protest participants). For this purpose, he received the SOAS Fieldwork award. As a researcher on fieldwork, Paul was affiliated with the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo and the Sociology Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In the first year of his PhD (2018/2019), Paul received the Meiji Jingu Scholarship. He audited Intermediate Japanese 2 to prepare for his fieldwork. In November 2018, Paul published the Japanese-language article “Reading the Repertoire of Contention of Contemporary East Asian Resistance Discursively and Aesthetically” (translated by Saya Taguchi) in Kamizono, The Journal of the Meiji Jingu Intercultural Research Institute. He did his Master of Research in Politics with Japanese at SOAS University of London from fall 2015 until fall 2017. This intercollegiate program allows students with backgrounds outside of politics to receive extensive methodological social science training at Birkbeck and empirical, theoretical, and linguistic education at SOAS over a period of two years. Felix Berenskoetter supervised Paul’s Master’s dissertation on “The German Red Army Faction and the ‘War on Terror’”. Paul did his Bachelor of Science in International Business at Maastricht University and studied abroad for a term at Yonsei University in Seoul.

Research interests

Predominant conceptualizations of resistance confuse the historical outcomes of end and failure with resistance itself. Paul’s thesis ontologically redescribes the 2014 pro-democratic occupation of Hong Kong, which did not achieve democracy and that the government cleared, as a Deleuzian event. Deleuze’s concept of the event distinguishes between the historical outcomes of an event and an event’s becoming: its undirected and unpredictable productivity. The ontological redescription of Hong Kong’s 2014 protests reconceptualizes failed and ended resistance as both a productive and politically frustrating event to intervene against such reductive notions of resistance. Fittingly, since early summer 2022, Paul co-edits a forthcoming trans-disciplinary volume on the event with Quintus Immisch from the University of Tübingen. Windpark Books will publish the volume. In his introduction of the volume, Paul reflects how a playful approach to writing that does not succumb to sloppiness and unintelligibility can transform writing from a tool to drive a certain point home into an eventful epistemic journey. In a collaborative chapter of the forthcoming edited volume, Saskia Schomber, a Classics scholar, using narratological perspectives, and Paul, drawing on Deleuzian thought, engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue on their different viewing experiences of David Lynch’s Lost Highway and the effects of the movie’s excessiveness. Paul recently started to work on a review for Kult_Online of “The Big No”, edited by Kennan Ferguson, and “Negative Geographies: Exploring the Politics of Limits”, a volume that David Bissell, Mitch Rose, and Paul Harrison edited. Paul’s review will elaborate on how the volumes conceptualize positivity, affirmationism, and vitalism in Deleuzian, new materialist, and non-representational thought and the political problems this entails. On the other hand, Paul’s review stresses how the volumes contrast the concept of negativity to this joyful tradition of thought and what makes negativity such a promising analytical and political perspective for research.

Contact Paul