Macanese, Portuguese or British? Tracing the Lives of Manuel and Eduardo Pereira in Macau, Hong Kong and Britain

Catherine S. Chan

University of Macau

This study follows the multiple immigration of Manuel Pereira, and his son, Eduardo Pereira, to explore the complex relationship between colonialism, ‘race,’ and social mobility. Born in Portugal, Manuel Pereira traveled to Macau during the late eighteenth century in search of fortune. He eventually married into a Macanese family, and emerged as one of Macau’s wealthiest and most respectable men. His son, Eduardo, changed his name to Edward, and moved to Hong Kong during the 1840s where he became part of the British middle-class circle. In Hong Kong, Edward Pereira joined Dent & Co. as a partner and became the only ‘Portuguese’ to move along the social worlds of middle-class Britons. By the late 1850s, Edward Pereira had moved to Britain and re-established himself as an aristocrat. Through an examination of two generations of the Pereira family, I trace their movement from Portugal to Macau to Hong Kong and eventually, to Britain, to reveal ‘race’ and ‘class’ as wider social experiences shaped by imperial traditions, personal ambitions and transnational networks. This study, thus, rethinks migration to Asian colonies as a stepping-stone for metropole Portuguese and further reveals the role of imperial cultures in influencing the shifting meanings of being ‘Portuguese’, ‘Macanese’, and ‘British’ under different social settings and timeframes. Ultimately, this study aims, from the lens of middle class migrants, to understand the construct of ‘race’ beyond the coloniser-colonised spectrum and reconsider the colonial encounter as a pragmatic response to immigration opportunities, social traditions and life challenges.


Catherine S. Chan is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Macau and specialises in the social and transnational histories of colonial Hong Kong and Macau. Chan recently completed her PhD in History at the University of Bristol under the Hong Kong History Project where she worked on the evolution of the ‘Portuguese’/Macanese migrant communities in Hong Kong from 1841 to 1941 in relation to race, class, colonialism and diaspora. Her other research interests include heritage studies in post-war Asia and transnational cultural history.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria

© 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd