Senna Fernandes and Fernanda Dias are outstanding fictional voices from Macao, the last colonial settlement of the Portuguese empire. Being a Macanese, term locally reserved for Eurasian people of Chinese, Portuguese and other descent born in Macau, Fernandes chronicles his own community, picturing the processes of the construction of identity and otherness along multiple lines of class, ethnicity, gender, and religion. His fiction takes place in a conservative social milieu - the Macau Lusophone community during the 1930s and 1940s. He captures the fused historical experience of the Macanese community at the borderline between the Portuguese colonizers and the majority Chinese population. His stories, depicting the extended conviviality in Macau between those of Lusophone descent and the Chinese population, enlightened the interweaving of ethnic, patriarchal, and class divides as revealed by the protagonists. The contemporary Portuguese poet and novelist Fernanda Dias depicts the East-West encounters through the lines of intimacy and romanticism. Featuring a romantic relationship between a Portuguese woman and a Chinese man, she rewrites the power relations between the two lovers into a subtle game of political implications and allusions to colonial history. Erotic love becomes the manifesto of the internalization of the other’s culture, developing into alien perception. These two authors, coming from somehow opposite standpoints, capture the fused historical experience of the Macanese, Portuguese and Chinese communities, and reveal the various thin lines of invisible but resilient markers and multiple crisscrossing strategies of either closure and refusal or binding with and accepting various others.
Ana Maria Correia, University of Saint Joseph, Macao
Vera Borges, University of Saint Joseph, Macao
Stream: Belonging and the intersections of gender
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