Oct 16, 2013

Day 3: interviews and archives

Prof. Tim Simpson
Today started with an interview with Professor Tim Simpson from the Department of Communication of University of Macau. Tim is a specialist in tourism and post-socialist consumption practices as well as themed environments and consumption (among other things). He told us how Macau can be seen as a laboratory of consumption where People's Republic of China tests market economy in its most dense form, capitalism based on gambling. He also told us about the short history of big casinos in Macau, the intricacies of employment in casinos as well as the activities of junket entrepreneurs who bring gambling tourist groups from mainland China. In addition to that, he provided us with many great further contacts for our project.

After interviewing Professor Simpson, we started our journey towards the Historical Archives of Macao. We call it a journey because the normally 15-minute ride from the university to the archives took us about 3,5 hours (by foot, taxis and buses - and including lunch). To make a long story short, it is hard to travel quickly from point A to point B through the congested traffic of Macau if 1) there are few taxis, 2) you don't really know where the buses are going, and 3) if you have wrong assumption about the location of point B, and 4) you bump into a Pizza Hut on the way.

Eventually, we did get to the archives, and got us some great historical photographs of old Macau. Then, we hurried back to the university for another interview to find out that the interviewee had to cancel.This, however, gave us time to look for our camera bag that we noticed I had left in the taxi. Fortunately, I had kept the receipt that had the taxi's number, so together with a professor passing by and three friendly security guards we could call the same taxi back to the university - and we got our bag back in no time.

The taxi that drove around with our camera bag.

Waiting for an interviewee.
After reuniting with the camera bag, we proceeded to interview our next scheduled academic, a fellow anthropologist/film-maker Professor Peter Zabielskis at the Department of Sociology. Peter told us about the ingredients of Macanese identity vs. Macao identity, and his research about the interaction between built environment and identities. When we asked Peter, a native Manhattanite, how he had ended in Macau, he replied that his desire has always been to travel as far as possible, and Macau is pretty much just there from New York. We think that if there is such thing as an anthropologist's ethos, that's probably it.

Prof. Peter Zabielskis.
We ended our day by going a few floors higher from Professor Zabielskis' office to shoot a time-lapse video about Macao's skyline turning from day to night. Luckily, the way back home didn't take us more than a half an hour.

Filming Macanese day turning into night.

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