The recently opened University of Macau’s Centre for Chinese History and Culture aims mostly at developing research. It also aims at helping the younger generation to understand Chinese history and culture and, more specifically, “history of Macau within the Chinese context”, director Hao Yufan tells mART.
By Luciana Leitão
The University of Macau’s Centre for Chinese History and Culture is operating since February. Listed by the Ministry of Education of the Central Government as a “key research platform in the areas of humanities and social sciences,” it is to be developed in coordination with Tsinghua University and East China Normal University. Director Hao Yufan tells mART the first goal is to promote research on Chinese history and culture, as well as assisting the younger generation to have a better understanding of its past.
At this stage, it is already established at a smaller venue, in the premises of the University of Macau, but the idea is to expand to a bigger venue, to be opened in the future. Located within University of Macau, the centre aims primarily at “promoting research advancement in Chinese history and culture”.
Among its goals are included the usage of the centre as “a platform to promote understanding of Chinese culture and history among the young generation within Macau — for example, elementary school, middle school, university”. At the same time, the director says it should be also a “bridge to promote Chinese culture within the Portuguese-speaking countries”, considering Macau’s “unique advantage” regarding bilingual manpower and also its historical heritage.
A variety activities
To promote the understanding of Chinese history and culture within the younger community, the centre plans on hosting a series of activities. “We may do cultural activities, or create video and audio materials to achieve those goals,” he mentions, adding: “We also hope we can eventually develop some written materials.”
Considering there is a lack of overall knowledge on history of Macau in local schools, Mr Hao says they will “try to focus on the historical development of Macau within the big context of Chinese history.” He believes the younger generation “may not be sufficiently informed”, hence the need to improve that knowledge. “That’s part of the reason why we think there is a societal need to have the young generation better informed about their historical past, of the Chinese heritage, of the Chinese historical knowledge.”
Specifically about history of Macau, Mr Yao says the centre’s academic staff is now focusing on researching the past. As for guidelines, he mentions there are none. “We even don’t know when we are going to trace back — we want to establish some database from the archive perspective to have a better understanding on what happened and to give young generation a better understanding on history of Macau,” he highlights.
Eventually, along the way, once research is more advanced, the director expects they can assist in the non-tertiary textbooks. “We are prepared to do a lot of things, largely to promote a better understanding of Chinese history and of the history of Macau in the Chinese context, in the Chinese historical background.”
In the past years, the University of Macau has also focused on the “Macaulogy, largely from the historic perspective,” so as to provide a “better picture of what happened in Macau, in the past, and to provide some local knowledge system”. The centre should “push further studies on that”.
As for timetable, he says it’s still early to say. The first work in the agenda is to “collect a group of academic staff to study and do research,” while at the same time organise some workshops, academic conferences and lectures among university and non-tertiary students. Next year, they also plan on providing a Master on Chinese History and Culture, targeting the local community.
The University of Macau’s Centre for Chinese History and Culture, now based on its temporary premises, is now working with two to three academic staff as well as two to three administrative staff. Once the final venue is finished, the director hopes they can have 10 people working there, six of which will be academic staff.
Starting from 2019/2020, the textbooks used in the local schools for the teaching of history will be standardised with the ones used in People’s Republic of China, according to the Chief Executive, Chui Sai On. “The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau and the same services from Mainland China have reached a consensus as to producing uniform school materials about the discipline of history,” Chui Sai On said, in a written answer to legislator Mak Soi Kun. Currently, there are no textbooks exclusively exclusively on history of Macau for the non-tertiary sector.