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ix Preface This short study complete with new photographs of Macao does four things. It is a guide-book to parts of Macao, spelled here with the old Portuguese usage, rather than as ‘Macau’. It discusses Macao as a colonial city, as having a history of baroque art and architecture, and as being fascinating in its own right. It thinks about what is meant by ‘baroque’ when this term is used in contemporary literary and critical theory. So, the book is for readers interested in Macao and others who want to discover theory because they are working in cultural studies. Those who live in Hong Kong particularly will be surprised at how much theory of the baroque — which also includes a theory of allegory, deconstruction, postmodernism, colonialism, globalisation, and the phenomenology of perception — can be learned from Macao. The book also gives a very elementary introduction to the work of Walter Benjamin — in fact, we once thought of calling the book Macao, Capital of the Sixteenth-Century. Finally, we hope it will be of interest to anyone who wants to ‘read’ cities, whether baroque or global. Armed with a digital camera, we have walked the length and breadth of Macao, looking at its architecture. Photographs were all taken by Louis Lo and the text was written jointly, in Hong Kong, Manchester and Macao. We have read everything we can on Macao, some material very informational; this book uses much information gleaned in this way, but the reader should be warned that the selection of material here is more personal than comprehensive, and that one of its keynotes is to discover, and write about, what is ‘baroque’ in Macao. A number of terms from architecture, art criticism and cultural theory have been used, and where terms are technical, they have been explained in the course of writing, and in more detail in a glossary which appears at the end. But there are also gaps in the information we could obtain. There are frustrating differences in the attitude taken towards visitors coming to Macao in comparison to historical sites in Europe. Macao deserves a more discerning attitude towards its past; if it had had that, there might not have been such destruction of its past. Visitors are kept from making discoveries by the unhelpful information that we, for example, have sometimes received while walking the city. (No one would take responsibility for helping us, and seemed surprised that we were interested in places which, in any other context, would have crowds of tourists visiting.) Sites which are listed as ‘popular’ and ‘world heritage’ are only interested in attracting consumption rather than understanding, not to mention places which are not in the list, but which are equally interesting. We have been struck by the paucity of information about the sites. We have looked at books, talked to people at the various sites, consulted websites, for information that was ultimately unattributable, uncertain in quality, poor in quantity. Even finding decent maps has been a problem. Much information found, especially on websites, has merely repeated or recycled other pieces of information, much of it inaccurate. Those doing cultural studies often Preface x Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque discuss the difficulties of ‘reading the city’. To those theoretical issues which they face — the complexity of signs in the city, and their several meanings — can be added the practical issue of being able to read Macao as a text where interpretative keys seem to fail, partly because of a lack of basic informative detail about the city, and partly because that detail may be taken in so many ways, with differing implications for Chinese and Portuguese readers. Much of what follows is tentative. It needs more detailed research, which will only come when art historians and archaeologists turn on Macao the detailed attention that it needs and deserves. In spite of frustrations, we also encountered wonderful helpfulness from people who let us photograph from their houses or shops, and each visit to Macao produced kindness: the Ho Tung librarians; Pedro Ascenção, the head teacher at Dom José da Costa Nunes kindergarten; the Institute for Tourism; Professor Mao Sihui; the clergy of São José and of the St Joseph the Workers’ Church; the Instituto Salesiano, Macao; and César Guillén Nuñez and Eric Sautede and the Ricci Institute, where Jeremy Tambling gave a paper on Macao on 11 May 2005 entitled ‘Chinese Urban Culture and the Ruins of Macau’ (Macau Ricci Institute Forum 13...


Subject Headings

  • Art, Chinese -- China -- Macau (Special Administrative Region).
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