The Newsletter 64 Summer 2013

The ongoing story of Macao

Tim Simpson

In the late 15th century, Portugal’s age of discoveries inaugurated the contemporary world system that fi nds its form today in ‘globalization’, directly contributing to the establishment of mercantile empire, the rise of the nation-state, and the formation of the modern imaginary. In 1557 the Portuguese claimed Macao, the first (and ultimately, the last) European territory in Asia, which would serve mainly as a center for trade and Catholic missions into China. Macao joined the far-flung Portuguese colonies that traced the empire’s maritime explorations from the Azores and Madeira, to Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea, Mozambique, Brazil, India, Malacca, Timor-Leste, and Nagasaki. Macao has eff ectively bookended the global era of the last half millennia and today the tiny city continues to play a rather remarkable role in the circulations of subjects, cultures, and capital through China.

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