Roy Eric Xavier, Ph.D.
Director, Portuguese and Macanese* Studies Project
Visiting Scholar, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues
University of California, Berkeley
E-mail: [email protected]
Los Angeles, California, USA
* We define “Macanese” broadly as either: 1) Portuguese Eurasians born in Macau; or 2) the descendants of Portuguese Eurasians (Luso-Asians) with cultural roots in Portugal, Goa and western India, Macau, Hong Kong, Canton, Shanghai, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia or Timor. This definition is based on the historical origins of Luso-Asians since the 1550’s, who formed expatriate communities devoted to Catholicism, spoke a creole or “maritime” language influenced by the various trade cultures in Asia, and who were rooted in the cultural world of Portugal for almost five centuries. After 1600 Macau became not only a central trading port, but also a point of dispersion of many mixed-race Portuguese descendents who identified with its traditions through religion, language, and family.
The use of the term “Portuguese-Macanese” throughout this site blends the old British identification of the “Portuguese” in Hong Kong with the internal recognition of Portuguese as “Macanese”, that is, as Eurasians of Portuguese descent, the earliest who settled in Goa and Macau.
Click here for information on the historical development of Macanese culture.
U.C. Berkeley – Bancroft Library – R.O.H.O. – Portuguese in California Project
Uniao Macaense Americana, Inc. – The oldest Casa de Macau membership organization in the United States (founded in 1959).
Lusitano Club of California – The largest Casa de Macau membership organization in the United States.
Alianca Internacional Macaense (AIM – Macau) – A registered commercial and cultural association in Macau founded by seven Macanese organizations in the United States, Canada, and Macau (SAR) China.
Short Version: What is Far East Currents.com ?
Why am I studying the Portuguese-Macanese Community ?
My reasons are both professional and personal:
1) To understand the roles that Portuguese-Macanese people played in the development of Macau, Hong Kong and other regions of southeast Asia, and their migration to other countries after World War II;
2) To piece together the stories of community members, past and present, including many of my own family, whose biographies were witness to the expansion of trade with China, colonial development, and the beginnings of “Credit Finance” on a global scale.
And, equally important:
3) To use this web site and other social media tools to involve anyone who is interested in understanding, contributing to, and preserving Portuguese-Macanese cultural history.
Like many people who share these interests, I’m struck by the irony of creating a web site, even with the resources of the Internet, when so little authorative information about this community is available. In fact, Portuguese-Macanese history may be one of the best kept secrets of the colonial period.
The major reason has been the general lack of source materials. In conducting this research I’ve found that much of the information, like the Portuguese-Macanese themselves, is scattered all over the world. While archives exist in Portugal, Goa, Macau, Hong Kong, Australia, and California, most are not well-known outside academic circles. Moreover, among the “Filho Macau” organizations I could identify (see the “Diaspora ” tab on the main menu), while all have newsletters and web sites dedicated to preserving the culture, most are virtually unknown to younger generations or to the outside world. There are also scattered articles, papers, academic theses, and government reports that provide relevant information, but those too, although publically accessible, have never been gathered together and evaluated in an organized manner.
Articles and the P\Mac Archives
I’ve attempted to change that, along with my partners, by listing my current articles on the Portuguese-Macanese community under the Articles tab, by archiving source materials that I use for my research under the Archives tab, and by posting short essays periodically (see the Home Page and the Recent Posts column on the right). I also included a bibliography of published books and articles that can be used by other writers conducting research in this area. As my research continues, I will be adding other materials to this section. I encourage anyone who has materials not currently in the archive to send them to me for inclusion.
The lack of source materials motivated me to begin collecting written and verbal accounts, including video taped “oral histories”, provided by members of the Portuguese-Macanese community that I have been able to contact. To preserve these important memories, I created a special section on this site for that purpose.
You may have noticed the Submit Memories tab on the home page. This is a key feature. I created it to encourage anyone who has recalled or written memories of their experiences in China, or of growing up with Macanese relatives in other countries to share it. It is also meant for anyone outside the Macanese community to contribute their thoughts and comments. My purpose is to create a forum for dialogue and communications among those who are interested to share their stories and perspectives. As I state in the introduction, sharing these stories allow visitors to understand the richness of Portuguese-Macanese culture, and to appreciate the contributions of its people to the economic development of Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.
Destinations and Links
The migration of this community since the end of World War II has personal relevance to me, and is an important element of its historical development. This story continues as the estimated number of Macanese world-wide reaches 1.5 million members. As a result, the telling of this story becomes an important legacy for younger generations and the study of world history in general. Equally important is the creation of person-to-person communications that encourage cultural exchanges between communities in Asia, Europe, India, Australia, and North and South America. Under the Diaspora tab I’m creating links to different organizations that will facilitate these exchanges. Over the next few months, this section will expand to include a variety of tools designed to encourage both virtual and physical visits to these sites.
My Posts, Your Posts, and Videos
Creating a virtual presence for any activity is a work in progress. In other words, there is always something to contribute, edit, and update. But I’ve adopted the design and use of “Far East Currents” not only to encourage others to participate, but frankly to keep me on task for my own work. Like many people of my generation, I work in different media: text, audio, image creation, video, or combinations of some or all of the above. This may seem unusual for someone with an academic background, but my professional history as a manager of television and media organizations, as well as a researcher affilitated with a university near Silicon Valley, naturally led me to this project and the methods I’ve adopted.
To make it easier on myself and others, I decided to combine the best elements of the internet on one platform: Blogging, Text, Video, Social Media, and Images. This allows me to share short “posts” of ideas that I’m working on for articles and other publications, to solicit comments, and hopefully to improve the quality of finished work in the future. The same purposes can be achieved by others who submit memories or longer articles under the “Submit Memories” tab. The rule of thumb is: If you write or share it with us, others will comment and share with you.
The concept of “sharing” is the basis of Social Media, and a continuation of the path begun on this web site. And sharing is more compelling when it incorporates moving and static images. That is why I will occasionally combine a short video introduction of a topic or issue with a longer written piece, as you will notice here on the “Start Here” page. There will also be other videos from external sites that I will add in the right column. Sharing videos on this site, or via Facebook and other sites, will automatically link back to the text and to any comments you made on them. This is another way to encourage participation.
Finally, you may notice links to “Writers-Artists” on the left side column of the home page. These are connected to the work of writers, artists, and other creative members of the Portuguese-Macanese community. This is another way of encouraging Macanese professionals who wish to display their work, comments, or observations, and facilitate their participation in a dialogue between generations and other audiences. Over the years, I’ve observed a widening gap between professionals inside and outside the community. The inclusion of these links will hopefully highlight the quality and creative depth of younger members, especially those using digital media.
Ultimately, the goal of “Far East Currents” is to initiate a dialogue within and outside the Portuguese-Macanese community world-wide. This site is the community’s archive and library. Only with your help and support can this dialogue continue.
Thanks for visiting,