Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Asian Studies, University of Hawaii

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Santa Cruz
Imagining Macau: Local Identities in Transnational Formation

On December 20, 1999, Macau, a Portuguese colony on the south China coast, will be ‘turned over’ to the People’s Republic of China. As that date approaches, a growing struggle to define a cultural identity specific to Macau has emerged, involving residents of Macau and of Macau-related communities all over the world. Recent massive movements of people a capital across national borders, coupled with powerful new forms of transnational identity such as “Greater China”, are transforming the relationship between ideas of race, citizenship, and civilization which gave meaning to the social categories of the colonial era. To a large extent, the contest to define Macau’s identity is taking place through appeals to transnational forces that would appear to preclude the formation of a unified local identity. This process raises questions about the anthropological understandings of local/transnational oppositions, about the meaning of cultural self-determination, and about the power of ‘culture’ as a category of identity. My dissertation research will engage this process by asking two questions: first, how are changing forms of contemporary transnational mobility and identity giving new meanings to old colonial social categories; and second, how, when, and for whom does ‘culture’ itself become a meaningful category for affinity? This project will address these questions through ethnographic fieldwork in Macau, Beijing, Portugal, and the U.S.A.