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How to Know Hong Kong and Macau

Roberto Ignacio Diaz, Dominic Cheung, Ana Paulina Lee, Authors

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Re-interpreting the tourist experience

On the other hand, we can reconsider what it means to experience an "authentic" history. If we want to experience an "authentic" Macau, how are we to define what parts should compose its whole? Often we consider the "authentic" to be something of the past that represents that historical period or figure. Time becomes part of the value of the authentic thing, as we seek to somehow feel or express the notion that this Authentic Thing has withstood years of change, intact. 

But as tourists, we also want to experience "the real Macau" (or whatever place, city, country, culture). Taking this as another desire in the tourist gaze, who is to say that "authenticity" must be grounded in the past? The Macanese government and its cultural institutions may seek to create a sense of pastness as part of an identity project, but this is not to say that we must stop at such "staged authenticity." The "authentic" Macau, the "real" Macau, could very much include the parts that are constructed and imagined. We can argue that the cal├žadas built in 2010 are just as much a part of Macau as St. Dominic's Church of the 16th century. Both exist in the regions that Macau incorporates, and so both contribute to what makes Macau today. 

If we try to look beyond the preconceptions that shape our ideas of travel, culture, and place, perhaps we can enter a new space of interpretation. Rather than viewing Macau as either a gambling haven or an extended museum of history, we can choose to view Macau as a fluid place of change and activity, in the process of creation at each moment. 
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