MRI Forum 83

Heritage in the making: Culture, local agency, and the city

Date:

  • 29 March 2016

Location:

  • Macau Ricci Institue

Time:

  • 18:00 to 21:30

Cost:

  • Free

Languages:

  • English

Audio Record of this Forum

Speaker

Workshop

Sheyla Schuvartz Zandonai

Sheyla S. Zandonai is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology at the University of Macau and Research Associate at the Laboratoire Architecture Anthropologie (LAA), École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette (France) since 2014. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology and Ethnology from the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), France (2013). She has taught in France (University of Le Havre) and in Canada (Trent University), and has conducted extensive fieldwork in Macau during her doctoral and postdoctoral studies. Her current research examines the relationships between urban transformation and the political economy of gambling and tourism, and the emergence of practices and discourses of place, heritage, and belonging in Macau.

Introduction

Underlying Macau’s move from a dragging and slow economy at the turn of the 21st century, the liberalization of gambling has fostered a staggering wave of economic growth and ‘overdevelopment.’ While engendering higher incomes and a situation of full employment, strong market forces tied to the gambling and tourism industries have also triggered rising living costs and the intensification of mass tourism, transforming the social and spatial experiences of the city. As Macau’s economy gained momentum and people’s take about the city’s future shifted from enthusiasm to scepticism and disquiet, residents have engaged in different responses to show their discontent, to contest, or simply attempt to counter gambling’s hegemonic power over Macau’s economy and society. In this process, heritage became an important locus of popular and local agency and for a commitment for the creation of a different image and experience of Macau, away from gambling and closer to people’s perceptions and understanding of their own city. Drawing on ethnographic work, this talk will describe and examine some of these reactions as Macau residents gained a new insight from their collective experiences and became gradually involved in the cultural process of heritage-making.