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Cosmopolitan Visions and Intellectual Passions: Macanese publics in British Hong Kong

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 May 2021

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From the lens of two Macanese publics, this study rethinks cosmopolitanism as a diverse identity and pursuit that can vary from one individual to another. It complicates what we know about polyglot Asian publics often profiled as ‘cosmopolitan’ for their foreign education, middle-class status, social commitment, and internationalist visions. I argue that, while these subjects shared a common background, they diverged according to shifting global contexts, generational differences, and personal experience. On a par with imagining themselves as part of a global community, cosmopolitan publics navigated between personal worlds and communal networks, as well as between a narrower nationalist and/or urban context and a broader global framework. My first subject, Macao-born Lourenço Pereira Marques, saw Hong Kong as a liberal ground to disseminate Darwinism across southern China's Lusophone public sphere during the 1880s, whereas Hong Kong-born José Pedro Braga worked to preach an internationalist vision of racial equality through a wider Anglophone public sphere and an emerging transnational associational culture in the early twentieth century. This study also aims to further our understanding regarding Hong Kong as a vibrant port city and explore the diversity of cosmopolitan publics in the context of transitioning internal and external worlds.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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I would like to thank Robert Bickers and Su Lin Lewis for the ideas that inspired the writing and completion of this paper.


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2 In this study, ‘Macanese’ (in Portuguese, Macaense) is an umbrella term to identify Southern China's Luso-Asian community who were either born in Macao or had ancestral roots in the Portuguese colony. The Macanese have deeper roots in Portuguese outposts in Southeast Asia and were known for adopting a mix of Southeast Asian, Portuguese, and Chinese cultural practices, as well as speaking Patuá, a Portuguese-based creole language that borrows from Malay, Cantonese, and Sinhalese. For studies regarding the background of the Macanese, see Deng Siping 鄧思平, Aomen tusheng Puren 澳門土生葡人 (Macaenses; Xianggang: Sanlian shudian youxian gongsi, 2009); Ana Maria Amaro 安娜·瑪里亞·阿馬羅, Dadi zhizi: Aomen tusheng Puren yanjiu大地之子──澳門土生葡人研究 (Filhos da Terra: Sons of the Land), (trans) Jin Guoping 金國平 (Aomen: Aomen wenhua sishu, 1993).

3 In this study, I use Su Lin Lewis's idea of ‘cosmopolitanism’ as, quoting, ‘a sense of “double consciousness” of global processes and local pluralism, as well as a commitment to social change’. This commitment could be realized through civic participation, philanthropy, social reform, or participation in public spheres and the production of hybrid cultural forms. For this, see Lewis, Su Lin, Cities in Motion: Urban Life and Cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia, 1920–1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. 11CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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14 For works that have highlighted the relationship between cosmopolitanism and political identities, see, for example, Chua, Ai Lin, ‘Imperial subjects, Straits citizens: Anglophone Asians and the struggle for political rights in inter-war Singapore’, in Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-war Singapore, (eds) Barr, M. D. and Trocki, C. A. (Singapore: NUS Press, 2008), pp. 1636Google Scholar; Keo, Bernard Z., ‘Between empire and nation(s): the Peranakan Chinese of the Straits Settlements, 1890–1948’, in Colonialism, China and the Chinese: amidst Empires, (eds) Monteath, P. and Fitzpatrick, M. P. (New York: Routledge, 2020), pp. 99117Google Scholar.

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17 Sinn, Elizabeth, Pacific Crossing: California Gold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong (Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong Press, 2013), p. 9CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

18 This division, which also concerned questions of class status, became more imminent during the inter-war years with the formation of a pro-Portuguese organization, Liga Portuguesa de Hongkong, which advocated Portuguese patriotism and the use of the Portuguese language. For this, see Catherine S. Chan, ‘Empire drifters: the Macanese in British Hong Kong, 1841–1941’, PhD diss., University of Bristol, 2019, pp. 184–231.

19 ‘Government notification No. 68’, The Hongkong Government Gazette, 6 May 1871, p. 196; Carrie, W. J., Report on the Census of the Colony of Hong Kong Taken on the Night of March 7, 1931 (Hong Kong: Noronha & Co., 1931), p. 133Google Scholar.

20 For the diversity of the ‘Macanese’, see Chan, Catherine S., ‘Macau martyr or Portuguese traitor? The Macanese communities of Macau, Hong Kong and Shanghai and the Portuguese nation’, Historical Research, vol. 93, no. 262, 2020, pp. 754768CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

21 So far, works that have touched on the transformations of the Macanese have been piecemeal and scattered. Luís Andrade de Sá and Alfredo Gomes Dias have raised questions regarding the complexities of defining the Macanese from political and sociological approaches. De Sá highlighted the tension between Anglophile Macanese and pro-Portuguese Macanese as a question of nationality whereas Dias discussed the Macanese in terms of nationality, culture, and ‘hybridity’. Stuart Braga studied the Anglicization of the Braga family. For these, see Alfredo Gomes Dias, Diáspora Macaense: Macau, Hong Kong, Xangai (1850–1952) [The Macanese Diaspora: Macau, Hong Kong, Shanghai (1850–1952)] (Lisboa: Centro Científico de Cultura de Macau, 2014), pp. 102–116; Luís Andrade de Sá, The Boys from Macau (Macau: Fundação Oriente; Instituto Cultural de Macau, 1999), pp. 47–54; Stuart Braga, ‘Making impressions: the adaptation of a Portuguese family to Hong Kong, 1700–1950’, PhD diss., The Australian National University, 2012, p. 392.

22 One of these visits was recorded by Hunan scholar Wei Yuan, who wrote a poem documenting a piano performance from one of Comendador Marques's daughter, entitled Aomen huayuan ting yinü yangqin ge 澳門花園聽夷女洋琴歌 [Listening to a Foreign Girl Play Piano in the Macau Garden]. For this, see Wei Yuan 魏源, Wei Yuan ji [魏源集; A Collection of Wei Yuan], vol. 2 (Beijing: Chungwah, 1976), pp. 739–740.

23 Wright, Arnold, Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai and Other Treaty Ports of China (London: Lloyd's Greater Britain Pub. Co., 1908), p. 807Google Scholar.

24 Isabel Morais, ‘Darwinism, Freemasonry and print culture: the construction of identity of the Macanese colonial elites in the late nineteenth century’, in Macao—the Formation of a Global City, (ed.) C. X. George Wei (New York: Routledge, 2014), p. 56.

25 Carroll, John, ‘A national custom: debating female servitude in late nineteenth-century Hong Kong’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 43, no. 6, 2009, p. 1472CrossRefGoogle Scholar; ‘Speech by Ng Choy at the Legislative Council’, 10 September 1880, CO 129/189, p. 484, The National Archives, London.

26 In his works, Marques also quoted French, Spanish, German, and English references without Portuguese translation.

27 Club Lusitano, Memoria dos festejos celebrados em Hongkong por occasião do tricentenario do principe dos poetas Portuguezes Luiz de Camões [Memorial of the Festivities Celebrated in Hong Kong on the Occasion of the Tercentenary of the Prince of Portuguese poet Luiz de Camões] (Hong Kong: Na Typographia de De Souza e Ca., 1880), pp. 83–85.

28 Catholic Register, 14 September 1880; Catholic Register, 16 September 1880.

29 The Compiler of the Memoir of the Tricentenary of Camoens, ‘To the editor of the “China Mail”’, The China Mail, 13 September 1880, p. 3.

30 António Joaquim Bastos, A inépcia em acção ou uma página para a história dos festejos promovidos em Hongkong pela Comissão do Tricentenário de Camões [The Ineptitude of an Action or a Page in the History of the Festivities Promoted in Hong Kong by the Commission of the Tercentenary of Camões] (Macau: Tip. Mercantil, 1880).

31 António Maria Augusto de Vasconcellos, Sermão pregado na Sé Catedral de Macau na primeira dominga de Quaresma em 6 de Março de 1881, no qual se refutam alguns pontos do sistema darwiniano com referência ao homem e à religião católica [Sermon preached at the cathedral of Macau on the first Sunday of Lent on March 6, 1881, which refutes some points of the Darwinian system with reference to man and the Catholic Religion] (Macau: Typographia Mercantil, 1881).

32 Policarpo da Costa, Análise do Sermão pregado pelo Reverendíssimo Senhor António Maria Augusto de Vasconcelos, bacharel formado em Teologia pela Universidade de Coimbra, na Sé Catedral de Macau em 6 de Março de 1881», Hongkong, 1881 [Analysis of the sermon preached by Reverend Mr António Maria Augusto de Vasconcelos, bachelor degree in Theology from the University of Coimbra, etc. in the cathedral of Macau, on March 6, 1881] (Hong Kong: Typographia de Noronha & Ca., 1881); Morais, ‘Darwinism, Freemasonry’, p. 63.

33 Lourenço Pereira Marques, Defeza do Darwinismo: refutação d'um artigo do Jornal ‘Catholic Register’ [Defence of Darwinism: Refutation of a Journal Article of ‘Catholic Register’] (Hong Kong: Typographia de Noronha, 1889), p. 1; Lourenço Pereira Marques, A validade do Darwinismo [The Validity of Darwinism] (Hong Kong: International Printing Press, 1882), p. 5.

34 Marques, Defeza, pp. 3, 57–58.

35 Marques, A validade do Darwinismo, pp. 22–26; Marques, Defeza, pp. 52–55.

36 Marques, A validade do Darwinismo, pp. 31–33; for Eitel's work, see Eitel, Ernest, Feng Shui or the Rudiments of Natural Science in China (Hong Kong: Trubner & Co., 1873)Google Scholar.

37 Marques, A validade do Darwinismo, p. 27.

38 Collini, Public Moralists, pp. 255, 2.

39 Coates, Austin, ‘Rizal in Hong Kong’, Proceedings of the International Congress on Rizal (Manila: Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission, 1962), p. 291Google Scholar.

40 Marques, A validade do Darwinismo, p. v.

41 Macau, Club de, Catálogo da Bibliotéca Dr. Lourenço Pereira Marques (Macau: Tip. Mercantil de N.T. Fernandes e Filhos, 1924)Google Scholar.

42 The original was ‘É já tempo de fazer soar ao longe os vossos justos clamores! Eu vos ofereço as minhas colunas, aproveitai-vos delas!’; M. M. D. Pegado, ‘Publicações Literarias [Literary publications]’, Boletim do Governo da Provincia de Macao, Timor e Solor, vol. 1, no. 38, 24 September 1846.

43 Philippino, ‘Justice in the Philippines’, The Hongkong Telegraph, 15 February 1892, p. 3.

44 ‘Jack Braga to Austin Coates’, 18 November 1969, MS 4300/3.8/1, J.M. Braga Papers, National Library of Australia, Canberra; Coates, Austin, Rizal, Philippine Nationalist and Martyr (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1968), pp. 213, 216Google Scholar. For Rizal's involvement with Freemasonry, see Fajardo, Reynaldo S., Dimasalang: the Masonic life of Dr. Jose Rizal (Pangasinan: CMN Printing Co., Inc., 1999)Google Scholar.

45 I only came across a version of the letter, dated 18 April 1892, that has been translated into Tagalog. See Mga sinulat ni Rizal: Pakikipagsulatan sa iba't ibang tao, ikalawang tomo [The Letters of Rizal: Correspondence with Various People], vol. II (Manila: Mga Lathalain ng Pambansang Komisyon ng Iksasandaang Taón ni José Rizal, 1961), p. 142.

46 José P. Rizal, ‘A visit to Victoria Gaol’, in Miscellaneous Writings of Dr. Jose Rizal, (eds) National Heroes Commission (Manila: National Historical Institute, 1992), pp. 145–148.

47 For the growth of a colonial public sphere in Asia, see Frost, Mark, ‘Asia's maritime networks and the colonial public sphere, 1840-1920’, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, 2004, pp. 6394Google Scholar. For the monopoly of British media, see Read, Donald, The Power of News: The History of Reuters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

48 Kenneth McPherson, ‘Port cities as nodal points of change: the Indian Ocean, 1890s–1920s’, in Modernity and Culture: From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, (eds) L. T. Fawaz and C. A. Bayly (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 90.

49 Su Lin Lewis, ‘Print and colonial port cultures of the Indian Ocean littoral: Penang and Rangoon’, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 82, no. 27, 2009, pp. 9–24.

50 Gregor Benton, Chinese Migrants and Internationalism: Forgotten Histories, 1917–1945 (London: Routledge, 2007).

51 Braga, ‘Making impressions’, pp. 151–154. For Vicente Braga's achievements in Osaka, see Hanashiro, Roy S., Thomas William Kinder and the Japanese Imperial Mint, 1868–1875 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), p. 166Google Scholar.

52 Braga, ‘Making impressions’, p. 203.

53 College, Roberts, Distribution of Prizes at the Dalhousie Institute on the 15th March 1890 (Calcutta: Catholic Orphan Press, 1890)Google Scholar, MS 4300/80, J.M. Braga Papers, National Library of Australia, Canberra.

54 The Naturalization Ordinance (Ordinance no. 10) emerged in 1845 but remained inactive until 1880. It was mentioned in 1862 by the Duke of Newcastle but the Hong Kong administration did not start accepting registration until Hennessy's time. For Hennessy's role, see Lowe, Kate and McLaughlin, Eugene, ‘Sir John Pope Hennessy and the “native race craze”: colonial government in Hong Kong, 1877–1882’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 20, no. 2, 1992, p. 229CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

55 The Hongkong Government Gazette, 21 August 1880, p. 629.

56 The Hongkong Government Gazette, 11 February 1880, pp. 150, 152, 144.

57 ‘The educational report for 1888’, Hong Kong Sessional Papers 1889 (Hong Kong: Noronha & Co., 1889), pp. 113, 101.

58 ‘Annual report of the head master of the Victoria College for 1889’, Hongkong Government Gazette, 10 January 1890, p. 220.

59 For an example, see Chan, ‘Empire drifters’, pp. 188–191.

60 ‘Arthur K. Travers’, 6 June 1895, The Hongkong Government Gazette, 17 August 1895, p. 899.

61 Another victim, ‘Wanted: a Sherlock Holmes for Hongkong’, The Hongkong Telegraph, 27 August 1895, p. 3, emphasis in original.

62 ‘One more victim, “Hongkong Post Office”’, The China Mail, 29 August 1895, p. 3.

63 Nepenther, ‘Tit for tat’, The Hongkong Telegraph, 28 August 1895, p. 3; N. R., ‘The “Portuguese”’, The China Mail, 5 September 1895, p. 3.

64 Braga, The Rights of Aliens, pp. xviii–xix, xxxvi.

65 J. P. Braga, ‘The rights of aliens in the British empire’, The Hongkong Telegraph, 30 August 1895, p. 2. For Newcastle's notice, see ‘Government notification no. 110’, The Hongkong Government Gazette, 1 November 1862, p. 290.

66 Braga, ‘The rights of aliens’.

67 Your Humble Servant, ‘Mr. Braga's letter’, The Hongkong Telegraph, 31 August 1895, p. 2.

68 An Old Resident, ‘The Portuguese’, Hongkong Daily Press, 9 September 1895, p. 2.

69 ‘The alien question’, The Hongkong Telegraph, 31 August 1895, p. 2; J. P. Braga, ‘The alien question’, The Hongkong Telegraph, 2 September 1895, p. 3.

70 Extremo Oriente, 7 September 1895, reprinted in Braga, The Rights of Aliens, pp. 62, 64–65.

71 ‘A questão dos extrangeiros em Hongkong [The question of aliens in Hongkong]’, Echo Macaenses, 11 September 1895, reprinted in Braga, The Rights of Aliens, pp. 67, 70.

72 Reprinted in Braga, The Rights of Aliens, pp. 75–76.

73 North China Herald, 27 November 1896, p. 4.

74 Odds and Ends, vol. 1, no. 4, May 1897, pp. 60–68.

75 ‘Sir William Robinson, G.C.M.G., a brief record of a long period of successful colonial administration’, Odds and Ends, vol. 1, no. 5, August 1897, pp. 73–78.

76 Braga, ‘Making impressions’, pp. 251–253.

77 For examples, see Jens Wegner, ‘Creating an “international mind”? The Carnegie endowment for international peace in Europe, 1911–1940’, PhD diss., European University Institute, 2015, p. 5; Gorman, D., ‘Empire, internationalism, and the campaign against the traffic in women and children in the 1920s’, Twentieth Century British History, vol. 19, no. 2, 2007, pp. 186216CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

78 Lugard, Frederick, Hong Kong University: Objects, History, Present Position and Prospects (Hong Kong: Noronha, 1910), p. 4Google Scholar.

79 For examples, see Chan, ‘Empire drifters’, pp. 167–168.

80 ‘No. 188’, The Hongkong Government Gazette, 25 April 1919, p. 206.

81 ‘Shanghai forming a Fellowship League’, The China Mail, 10 November 1921, p. 2. For the FOR, see Wallis, Jill, Valiant for Peace: A History of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1914–1989 (London: Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1991)Google Scholar.

82 ‘Fellowship spirit: Shanghai also forms a league’, The China Mail, 11 November 1921, p. 5.

83 ‘World peace, League of Fellowship formed: local endeavour, sequel to Dr. Hodgkin's Lectures’, The China Mail, 19 October 1921, p. 4.

84 The founding committee consisted of Henry Pollock (chairman), government doctor Ada Pitts, Rev. J. Kirk Maconachie, Rev. Arnold Hughes, committee member of Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce John Owen Hughes, and Mr Anderson and J. M. Wong.

85 ‘World peace, League of Fellowship formed’; ‘League of Fellowship: discussion at Chinese Chamber of Commerce’, The Hongkong Telegraph, 29 November 1921, p. 2.

86 ‘Racial disabilities and the Peak reservation, discussed by the League of Fellowship, official patronage of the League deprecated’, Hongkong Daily Press, 13 December 1921, p. 3.

87 ‘Racial disabilities in Hongkong: straight talk at a “Fellowship” gathering, the Peak, Cheung Chau and Taipo reservations, Rev. J. Kirk Maconachie and official patronage’, South China Morning Post, 13 December 1921, p. 8. For the Peak Reservation Ordinance, see John Carroll, ‘The Peak: residential segregation in Colonial Hong Kong’, in Twentieth-century Colonialism and China: Localities, the Everyday and the World, (eds) B. Goodman and D. S. G. Goodman (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 81–91.

88 ‘Racial disabilities and the Peak reservation’.

89 ‘Wound up, League of Fellowship and Service, final meeting’, The China Mail, 22 January 1925, p. 6.

90 ‘No. 612’, The Hongkong Government Gazette, 12 November 1926, p. 497; 'Report on Sanitary Department, Hong Kong, for the Year 1927', Administrative Reports for the Year 1927 (Hong Kong: Noronha & Co., 1928), p. M5.

91 ‘No. 30’, The Hongkong Government Gazette, 18 January 1929, p. 25.

92 ‘Minutes of the Hong Kong Legislative Council’, 24 January 1929, pp. 2–3.

93 ‘Police recreation: need of facilities at Kowloon, Mr. Braga's questions’, South China Morning Post, 2 May 1929, p. 6; ‘Kowloon problems: Hon. Mr. Braga on municipal matters, children's playground’, South China Morning Post, 20 September 1929, p. 14.

94 ‘The social evil’, South China Morning Post, 27 September 1929, p. 10.

95 The China Mail, 22 January 1929, seen in Braga, ‘Making impressions’, p. 278.

96 J. M. Braga, 24 January 1929, MS 4300/1/1, J.M. Braga Papers, National Library of Australia, Canberra; ‘Hon. Mr. Braga's appointment: new councillor receives the congratulations of his community reception at Club Lusitano’, South China Morning Post, 25 January 1929, p. 7.

97Os nossos leaders [Our Leaders]’, O Petardo, vol. 1, no. 5, January 1929, p. 1.

98Aclarando [Clarification]’, O Petardo, vol. 1, no. 7, February 1929, p. 1.