Reflections on Macau as a Global Capital of Cultural Consumption
At first sight, Macau is a marginal location at the margins of major flows of ideas. commodities, and capital. However, as a gaming hotspot, its visibility as a site of consumption that goes beyond the satisfaction of utilitarian needs into the realm of luxury, such as needs that are primarily culturally conditioned is on the rise. Basically, the rapid growth of Macau’s economy and gaming sector parallels the steep rise of the Asian cities in the global rankings of urban economies.
The meaning of this shift of the economic activity from a rather exclusive concentration in the developed Western countries toward a more dispersed geography of interconnections is not immediately apparent since its nature has more to do with philosophical concepts that are amenable to grasping conjunctions of continuities and discontinuties, than to describing clear-cut ruptures.
If in previous decades one was inclined to learn from Las Vegas, according to the eponymous book by Roberto Venturi. than in the present period one may be invited to learn from Macau about what cities of the future might be like. If the discourse on postmodernism can be interpreted as an American reading of the modern legacy of the Western Europe, than Macau as a spatial symbol of the Asian reading of the European modernity can be understood in terms of indicative signs for the direction that the intellectual, artistic and intellectual discourse in Asia will take.
One could surmise that similar to Paris in the nineteenth century Asian cities currently are developing into spaces for flanerie as a leisurely walking activity along the newly built spaces for consumption, spectation, and contemplation. As opposed to the museumification of European cities, Asian urban centers seem to be intent to produce more dynamic mixes of urban development, cultural districts, and exhibition spaces.
In this respect, it could be possible to see similarities and differences between the path of development that Paris went along and the ,ore recent process of Asian global cities becoming complex agglomerations of urban projects, international interconnections and spectacular architecture, such casino developments at Macau’s Cotai strip.