Migration and Diasporas
This paper explores how individuals create and sustain their sense of belonging within a diasporic context. The chosen case study rests upon the ethnic minority of the Macanese, described as those born or with ancestors from Macau, descendants of intermarriages taking place since the 16th century between Asians and Portuguese. The Macanese began leaving Macau in search for better employment and education opportunities during the second half of the 19th century. Since then, the diasporic communities have maintained the relation to a dual ‘place of origin’, Portugal and Macau, the latter now an Autonomous Region of China. With the deep transformations Macau has undergone since the 1999 Handover, the Macanese become a unique case for understanding how changes to the concept of ‘place of origin’ reverberate throughout the diaspora and shape notions of belonging.
The focus is on the Macanese Youth Gathering (Encontro) taking place at the end of October 2018 and bringing to Macau three diaspora representatives from each of the thirteen Macanese Migrant Associations (Casa). As a participant on behalf of the United Kingdom 'Casa', I will showcase how this two-week event is an opportunity for Macanese identity to be discussed, reconsidered and re-created. Through an in-depth analysis of news reports, personal written accounts and interviews, I will further explore how, upon return to Europe, participants continue to address what is to be Macanese and reflect upon their ‘belonging’ to the dispersed Macanese communities, especially those who had never been to Macau prior to the 'Encontro'.