French Perceptions of Macau as Place and Space in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Jingzhen Xie Assistant Professor, University of Macau, Macau

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Using eyewitness accounts by some French writers who sojourned in Macau during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this article investigates Macanese history from French perspectives. Attention is given to history, culture, and literature within writers’ interpretations. A distinct feature of Macanese history in this period is a story of the conflict between changed and unchanged, glory and decline, temporariness and timelessness. Imbued with admiration, reminiscence, and critique, the observations made by the French writers form a unique panoramic view over Macau. Such observations illustrate how Western culture examined itself, here represented as Portuguese culture, and the manifestations of this particular culture after being transplanted into another country far from the homeland. Integration of French perspectives can enhance the writing of Macanese history by providing particular insights and literary discernment.

Contributor Notes

Dr Jingzhen Xie is assistant professor of history at the University of Macau. She holds a PhD in French from Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include history of East–West interaction, Macanese history, history of Christianity in China, French colonial history, and late imperial China. She has published articles in journals such as MLN and Information & Culture and is the author of The French in Macao in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries: Literary, Cultural, and Historical Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022). ORCID: 0000-0001-9256-3211 Email:

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