A leading sociologist who has been conducting research on Macau affairs argues that the pace of ‘mainlandization’ of the local society has taken a new turn in recent years, a phenomenon that Zhidong Hao reflects in the newly launched second edition of his landmark volume “Macau History and Society”.
The first edition was published in 2010, also by the Hong Kong University Press, and has long been out of print.
The book is presented as “the most authoritative, comprehensive, and up-to-date account of Macau, from its inception as a Portuguese colony to its present-day status as a special administrative region”, and several experts, such as Jin Guoping from the Center for Macaology of Jinan University, understand that the book “is a masterpiece in the field and will help Macau studies reach an international audience”, as “it explains rich and complex historical materials with a lively style and vivid descriptions.”
Macau is described as a place “where cultures interact”, and the book “shows how such an interaction has been a source of both opportunities and tension.” In addition, Hao shows how the city has been uniquely exposed to local, regional, and global forces, the conjunction of which has demanded a constant effort from the people of Macau because they are expected to be cosmopolitan, yet uniquely local. The essence of their identity thus remains a fascinating subject of research.
A decade of changes
Professor Hao, an emeritus professor of Sociology at the University of Macau, explains to Macau News Agency the need of a second edition: “The Macau society is changing along with mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. A book like this should reflect the changes that have occurred in the past ten years.”
So, in this new edition, Zhidong Hao includes research “on the most pressing issues that Macau is facing: ethnic and class stratification, the politics of education, and problems related to the gambling industry.”
Professor Hao highlights some of the main topics, like mainlandization: “Macau is being mainlandized at a faster pace than before, which impedes the formation of a Macauan identity, which I’m hoping Macau can get”, he says to MNA.
Another problem is the “the erosion of the Portuguese/Macanese power: they used to have much power in the legal arena, but they are losing that power now.”
The new book doesn’t end without an idea of “hope for the future”.
“Macau’s future is in everybody’s hands. We need to know who we are, what we want to become, and how we can get there. I hope more people will think about these issues”, he explains.
“The Macauan identity”
Zhidong Hao was a full professor in the Department of Sociology of the University of Macau, and has a Ph.D. degree in Sociology from the City University of New York.
His studies and interests in sociology led us to defend the creation of a concept that became known as “Macauan identity”.
Professor Hao still believes it’s a valid concept, “everybody has an identity. To clarify that identity and think more about what one really wants to identify with is of crucial importance in the political, economic, cultural health of the city, and the physical and mental health of each individual in the society.”
But, he recognizes this in the book itself, the formula finds resistance from many fronts, the main one being mainlandization.
“Macau History and Society” is not currently on sale in any bookstore in Macau. Interested parties can order it through the website https://hkupress.hku.hk.
(Hao, Zhidong, Macau History and Society, Second Edition, 340 pages; Paperback. 978-988-8528-37-0; 2020)