Postmodern Paths of Learning?

Portuguese eastern trade routes from Lisbon to...

Portuguese eastern trade routes from Lisbon to Nagasaki (green), and Spanish Manila galleon route (gold))(16th–17th centuries) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new fish in “Fish with Attitude” game whose chance of breeding ends today has captivated my son’s attention. The fish’s name is Lunar Dragon, in honor of the Chinese Lunar New Year—today. In an effort to use this as a “teaching moment,” we learned about Macau’s glamorous building, “Grand Lisboa”– a name with a clear postcolonial meaning (Lisboa is Portugal‘s capital, and Macau was a Portuguese colonial post for many years).

And since my academic focus is on the African Diaspora, my interest led me to the year 1622, when the Dutch attacked Macau, but were repelled mostly by African enslaved soldiers.

At the margins of the global African Diaspora we found the story of a group of Blacks who gave their lives for European imperial interests—an empire built on the cheap (there was never enough money to pay for the expenses, so the empire became good at co-opting-recruiting subjects to accomplish their interests).

File:Portugal Império total.png

Today, the legacy of the African Diaspora is clear in Macau. Unfortunately, Western racism has found new homes in Asia too. Nevertheless, African students, among many others, are devising new ways to assert their influence and carve out a space of dignity.  

Habana, Cuba – A Cuban girl of African and Chinese heritage takes a break from her work at a Chinese restaurant in Barrio Chino. Chinese immigration to Cuba started in 1847 when Spanish settlers brought in Cantonese contract workers to work in the sugar fields. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers were brought in from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan during the following decades to replace and/or work alongside African slaves. Some 5,000 Chinese also immigrated from the United States during the late 1800s to escape the discrimination present at the time. A small wave of Chinese immigrants also arrived during the early 20th century to escape the political chaos in China.
Many settled in Havana’s Chinatown (known as (El) Barrio Chino de La Habana) and made it one of the earliest and largest Chinatowns in Latin America. Many used the money they accumulated as indentured laborers to open small grocery stores or restaurants. Generations of Chinese-Cubans married into the larger Spanish, mulatto, and Afro-Cuban populations. Today almost all Chinese-Cubans have mixed African, Spanish, and Chinese ancestry.

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About Dennis R. Hidalgo
I am a historian of the Atlantic World. I am passionate about people, those alive in the present and those who left little trace of their past.

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