Public Lecture | Macao's East-West Tourism Economy: Culture, Gastronomy, and Identity Imaginaries



USJ’s Research Laboratory for Cultural Sustainability and the Department of the Communications and Media are organising a public lecture on “Macao’s East-West Tourism Economy: Culture, Gastronomy, and Identity Imaginaries”, hosted by the Rui Cunha Foundation, on October 10.


The Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China has an important role to play in China’s contemporary worldwide economic power history. The Macao SAR has been one of the cities in the world with the highest income generated by the tourism sector. It can thus be said that Macao naturalizes an urban imaginary which corresponds to that of the consumer who seeks a cosmopolitan culture, luxury circuits and goods and the target audience par excellence in achieving China’s macroeconomic objectives.

In her ongoing research project, «Feasting and power: the economy of culture in Macao, China», she seeks to investigate how Macao’s tourism promotion and its East-West identity construction is based on a cultural hybridity, which has led to UNESCO’s recognition as tangible and intangible world heritage site and to a destination where gastronomy shines bright. Macao’s gastronomic potential for intercultural dialogue, exchange, and the creation of fusion cuisines – like the secular Macanese culinary which still preserves local ancient Portuguese influences – constitutes a significant part of the current political agenda. Cultural hybridity promotion, in general, has thus been developed to diversify tourism economy beyond the gambling sector, and to reflect the city’s mixed identity that justifies its role as a platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.

This talk will focus on the case study of Macao’s membership in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of gastronomy, in order to approach public policies for cultural tourism, heritage, and identity implemented in Macao, in line with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative of economic expansion and creation of global alliances.


Marisa C. Gaspar

Marisa C. Gaspar is an Invited Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences of  ISEG—Lisbon School of Economics & Management, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal; and a  researcher in SOCIUS/CSG—Research in Social Sciences and Management. Marisa is graduated in Anthropology from the Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL),  Portugal. In 2009, she completed an MSc in Social Anthropology at the London School of  Economics, UK. In the same year, she enrolled in the PhD in Anthropology at ISCTE-IUL. Her  research focused on Macao’s socioeconomic and cultural transformation in its early  postcolonial period, in the study of Portuguese colonialism, the Eurasian Macanese  community, transnationalism and diasporas, construction and reproduction of ethnic  identities, and creolization processes.

Since the conclusion of her PhD in 2013, she mainly carried out research projects within the  scope of Portuguese presence in Macao, and the enduring and close ties between China and  Portugal facilitated by Macao’s historical diplomacy.  

From 2017 onward she joined SOCIUS/CSG as a postdoctoral fellow, and the European Studies of Macao as visiting researcher, with the research project: ‘Feasting and power: the economy of culture in Macao’ funded by a 6-year FCT fellowship. It included a case study of food heritage and public policy in articulation with tourism, cultural economy, consumption patterns and the construction of identities as part of complex political and economic processes—simultaneously local and global—in postcolonial Macao. 

Marisa is an experienced fieldworker, having conducted long-term empirical research in Macao since 2010. In 2022, she organized and convened an exhibition from a selection of 32 ethnographic photographs compiled over years of fieldwork. ‘Macao in Contrasts (2010-2018)’ is an itinerant exhibition that aims to outreach wider and non-specialized audiences by portraying the anthropologist long-term visual ethnography research in Macao.


Date: Tuesday, 10 October, 2023
19:00 – 20:00
Rui Cunha Foundation, Av. da Praia Grande, Nº749-R/C, Macau
Language: English

*This event is open to the general public.

Organised by: USJ’s Research Laboratory for Cultural Sustainability and Department of the Communications and Media, and Rui Cunha Foundation.
Moderators: Mr. José Carlos Matias