(Dis)connections in Macau and Melaka: Constructing a Lusophone Indian Ocean
What follows below is a preliminary attempt at reflexively bringing together two Lusophone field experiences, one in Macau and the other in Melaka, both ancient Portuguese colonial harbors in the Indian Ocean.1 I will concentrate on the issue of language, and then link it to some local narratives of identity and local histories. Languages in Macau and Melaka are important because they are a direct link to the past; provide an anchor to local identities as they mark out communities; and are often fast disappearing, particularly in the case of the local Creoles. Community identities here do not necessarily depend on language; however, languages—Portuguese and Creoles lexically based on Portuguese as well as other local languages—are the basis for imaginings and practices that have sustained connections to the wider society and the Indian Ocean world for centuries as well as to lusofonia. Moreover, the question arises of whether these connections can be meaningfully sustained in the partial or total absence of language ties. As I will indicate below, it is precisely such a situation that is increasingly taking root nowadays.2
KeywordsIndian Ocean Local Identity Official Language Community Identity Portuguese Language
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