Author:Marisa C. Gaspar (ISEG-Universidade de Lisboa)
Paper short abstract:
This paper intends to look at the articulation of contemporary identity construction and heritage practices in the context of Macao’s urban and hybrid society. Special attention is given to Macanese cultural items, how they are now being preserved and promoted as heritage inherited from a colonial past.
Paper long abstract:
Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, my paper aims to provide a diversified and critical approach to contemporary heritage discourses and practices at work in the recently established Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (Macao SAR). The central subject of my research is the way local communities - with special emphasis on the Macanese Eurasian community - engage with cultural heritage construction in Macao, maintaining, forging and negotiating their collective identities and social, political and cultural experiences. I am interested in exploring the complexity of cultural policies and identity issues that can surround heritage, and in the understanding of way cultural heritage in Macao SAR turns out to be the product of wider economic, political and ideological dynamics and interests, while at the same time it makes local communities' political and cultural aspirations more obvious and apparent.
My paper shall explore how the exercise of heritage and cultural manifestations in the Macao SAR relate with its inscription within the UNESCO World Heritage List, and in particular with the political, economic and ideological project of Macao's unique identity. Is it supposed to differentiate Macao's region from the broader setting of the People's Republic of China to which it belongs, or to prove to the whole world that Macao is much more than a 'sin city' characterized by gambling addiction; and how does this relate with the identification and reproduction strategies of the Macanese community?
Heritage as social, economic and utopian resource