Who Belongs in the Empire? Culture, Race, and Malleable Identities in East and Southeast Asian Port Cities, 1840-1900
2: Pulling Imperial Strings: Rivalry between 'Portuguese' Communities in Modern East Asia
Saturday, March 26, 2022
12:30pm – 2:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of Macau, Macau
The first diaspora of Portuguese subjects originating from Macau (also known as the Macanese) to various port cities in East Asia began in the 1840s with the British colonisation of Hong Kong. By the early twentieth century, their presence in Macau and resettlement in the Shanghai International Settlement, British Hong Kong, and Kobe led to the complex diversification of the ‘Portuguese’ identity. In Shanghai, where Portugal did not have representation in the Municipal Council, the Macanese maintained a close affiliation with the Portuguese colonial government of Macau. In Hong Kong, as increasingly Anglophile Macanese were welcomed into the Legislative Council at unofficial capacities, two strands of Portugueseness emerged: one was pro-British while the other emphasised their loyalty to Lisbon. With a relatively smaller population, Kobe’s Macanese engaged with a pro-Portuguese Macanese organization in Hong Kong which the Macau government acknowledged as representative of the Portuguese nation in southern China. In this study, I highlight the diversification of the ‘Portuguese’ in modern East Asia and argue that by fashioning themselves either as members of the British or Portuguese empires, the Macanese diaspora not only sought to gain privileges, but also competed for the authority to redefine ‘Portugueseness’ and engaged in the construction of differences that ultimately divided the Macanese communities in East Asia.