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Catherine S. Chan

Jan 27, 2022

Macanese Diaspora in British Hong Kong

A Century of Transimperial Drifting

Amsterdam University Press 2021

In Hong Kong’s Ice House Street, in the heart of the city’s Financial District, is Club Lusitano: one of the city’s premier social clubs, nestled at the top of an office tower. But the club’s roots stretch back over 150 years, when it was originally set up to serve the colony’s burgeoning Portuguese community–including many who hopped over the Pearl River Delta from the Portuguese colony of Macau.

It can be hard to remember among the glistening casino lights of modern-day Macau, but the colony used to and still does host a sizable “Macanese” community: people of Portuguese or Portuguese-Chinese heritage. As Macau turned into a sleepy, somewhat rigid community in the nineteenth century, several Macanese made the jump to look for a better life elsewhere–including in Macau’s larger, British-run cousin, Hong Kong.

Catherine Chan’s The Macanese Diaspora in British Hong Kong: A Century of Transimperial Drifting (Amsterdam University Press: 2021) looks at the Macanese community in Hong Kong, and how they settled into life in the British colony.

More of Chan’s articles on the subject can be found in the following academic articles:

  • ‘Diverse Cosmopolitan Visions and Intellectual Passions: Macanese Publics in British Hong Kong,’ Modern Asian Studies 56, no. 1 (2022), 350-377.
  • ‘Macau Martyr or Portuguese Traitor? The Macanese communities of Macau, Hong Kong and Shanghai and the Portuguese Nation,’ Historical Research 93, no. 262 (2020), 754-768.
  • ‘From Macanese Opium Traders to British Aristocrats: The Trans-imperial Migration of the Pereiras,’ Journal of Migration History 6, no. 2 (2020), 236-261.

Historian Catherine Chan received her PhD from the University of Bristol and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Macau. You can find more examples of her work at https://projectmacau.wordpress.com/

We're joined again by fellow NBN host Sarah Bramao-Ramos. The three of us will talk about Hong Kong’s Macanese: what brought them to Hong Kong, the lives they built for themselves, and the niche they filled in British-run Colonial Hong Kong.

Amsterdam University Press has kindly offered listeners of the podcast a discount code! Go to the store page on the AUP website and input discount code CHAN_25 to receive a 25% discount on the book. This offer expires Feb. 28.

You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of The Macanese Diaspora. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.

Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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