New Article: Reframing and Reconceptualising Gambling Tourism in Macau as a Chinese Pilgrimage

We have a paper recently accepted, entitled “Reframing and Reconceptualising Gambling Tourism in Macau as a Chinese Pilgrimage”. We previously presented on the topic in 2014 at the 6th Expert ATLAS Conference on Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage, 19-23 June 2014, Veszprem, Hungary and the 2016 TTRA European Chapter Conference April 20-22, 2016, Shannon, Ireland.


While dominant discourses, media representations and corporate entities in China downplay the presence of Chinese mainland gambling in Macau, Beijing sanctions millions of its citizens to make the journey to Macau to gamble each year. This study explores Chinese gambling tourist’s movements, rituals and behaviours along post-structuralist lines, so as to generate new insights. The study argues that the metaphor of pilgrimage is an important lens to address individual and communal practices amongst outbound Chinese gambling tourists and brings to light the hyper-meaningfulness, shared values, ritualization, play, risk, and liminal conditions that characterise the processes of their entanglements and the centrality of commercial and political interests. This study argues for the need to explore the significance of cultural, spiritual, economic and social dimensions of Chinese outbound tourism, as well as the unique discourses of power and control affecting their movement and practices. By reframing and reconceptualising gambling tourists as a Chinese pilgrimage, the study fosters a global exchange of ideas about geographies of pilgrimage beyond euro-centric accounts.

Its with interest then, I note a new conference. The VII Congresso APA | 7th APA Congress in June 2019, looks at:

Religious Pluralism and Cultural Heritage. From Spiritual Experience to Political Uses

Short abstract
Religious pluralism is today an integral part of cultural diversity management policies. Cultural heritage policies place the anthropologist in the face of an enormous multiplicity of social phenomena. This panel questions the intersections between religions and cultural policies, beyond rhetoric, games, cooperation or friction between spiritual experiences and their political uses.

Resumo longo / Long abstract
The way people make sense of the world they live in and the strategies they use to do so, definitely connect anthropology to the beliefs, myths, rituals, and the symbolic domains. Named as religious pluralism in the mechanisms of governmentality, some of such experiences play a prominent role in the cultural diversity management, at local, national or intergovernmental levels. The spiritual, magical and ‘occult’ dimensions that integrate human behavior intersected with material or immaterial cultural heritage, made anthropologist confront a huge diversity of phenomena. Their approach has not only revealed ways of thinking and producing individual and collective identities, but also reveal significant fractures in the contemporary global world. Paper proposals (preferably in Portuguese or English) on religiosity as a manifestation of religious experience will be explored in this panel, particularly focusing on the way in which people and collectives produce heritage with spiritual or religious interest. There are at least three types of questions that can be used to explore various confessional groups: What are the articulations between the intimate or local religious experiences and the heritage processes that exteriorizes them? What are the games played between religious, political and cultural institutions in the process of (non) recognition of religious pluralism? What do the actors of religious pluralism have to gain (or lose) in heritage-making?

In Macau, we were particualrly interested in the unique discourses of power and control affecting tourists movement and practice, and religiosity was designed, to eleicit particular  responses. One is remineded of the new book by Ma Jian. “China Dream” Translated by Flora Drew, where he writes of “false utopias that haveenslaved and infantilised China since 1949”.

A recent cfp: cfp: Rituals and religious experience IUAES 2019 (Krakow), notes:

the ethnographies have become more sensitive to issues of how religious identities and practices intertwine with power, gender, class, ethnicity and nation, producing complex discourses and practices that shape social imaginaries and practices. Also, there has been a greater interest on religious subjectivities, the processes that produce them and their impact on the social trajectory and cultural expectations of the agents.

A recent news article in the New York Times argued:

So great is our hunger for rituals that when we come upon one of the few remaining ones — weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinceañeras — we tend to overload them and turn them into expensive bloated versions of themselves.

and the article reflects books like: Creating Rituals New Way to Healing for Everyday Life

The paper is out in Tourism Geographies –