Macau, on the threshold of the twentieth-first century, is perhaps a harbinger of a new urban culture. Having been nurtured by the sharply constrasting legacies of China and Portugal, this unique city manages to meld cultural differences and avoid the destructiveness of ethnic clashes. It is thus likened here to the Roman deity Janus, who is usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. By concentrating on the ambivalent history of Macau, the author reveals the historical reality of cultural vacillation between two political entities and the emergence of a creole minority - the Macanese. With a judicious use of English, Chinese, and Portuguese sources, she has provided a pathbreaking, multi-focal perspective of the last Portuguese outpost in Asia. In light of the 'decolonization' of Macau in December 1999, the author's analysis challenges the easy assumptions of the causal sequence: colonialism/postcolonialism, and opens up an interdisciplinary purview of a local instance in cross-cultural studies.
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