Conference Presentation: Seeking Divine Intervention: The pilgrimage to Macau – June 2014

Conference Presentation

Title: Seeking Divine Intervention: The pilgrimage to Macau

Year 2014

6th Expert ATLAS Conference on Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage, 19-23 June 2014, Veszprem, Hungary


As societies have become complex and individualistic, with highly differentiated belief systems and relations, the traditional academic field of religious tourism and pilgrimage has increasingly incorporated alternative beliefs, ritual practices and communities into their discussions. At a time when Beijing is running campaigns against gambling and superstition whilst controlling and directing ‘religious’ pilgrimages for its citizens, this paper argues that in Macau, a Special Administrative Region (MSAR) of the People’s Republic of China; mainland Chinese visitors are on a playful pilgrimage which is explicitly ritual without being overtly religious. The paper argues that gambler behavior is tied to a complex system of symbolic acts related to a broader religiosity which facilities the transformation into a gambler. However, we also argue that the pilgrimage is increasingly being appropriated and directed within a symbolic economy by commercial, secular interests.