Associate Professor & Prat-time Instructor



TELEPHONE(+853) 8822 8847


Ph.D. in Anthropology, New York University

M.Phil in Anthropology, New York University

M.A. in Anthropology, New York University

Certificate in Culture and Media, New York University

B.A. Phi Beta Kappa, Oberlin College


  • Southeast Asia and Malaysia
  • Overseas Chinese
  • Civil society
  • Anthropology of space, place, art, architecture, and urban development
  • Heritage preservation
  • Religion
  • Postcolonialism
  • Popular culture
  • Ethnographic and documentary media/film

Peter Thomas ZABIELSKIS was an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Macau before, where his international focus has been warmly welcomed by students and is reflected in consistently maximum enrollment numbers in his courses and in the individualized, one-on-one advisement attention he offers his students. This guidance has resulted in numerous successful admissions of UM students in all fields to post-graduate programs in many of the top universities around the world.  His research interests include material culture, art, architecture, religion, heritage, and the urban built environment in Macau and Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, and he has involved students in many of these projects. He spent over two years doing field research in George Town, Penang, Malaysia and received his doctorate from New York University.  Recent publications include studies of village festivals in Leizhou, China, civil society, and heritage theory and urban development in Penang and Macau, including “Towards a Moral Ecology of the City: A new form of place-based identity and social action in Penang, Malaysia” in International Development Planning Review and “Faith and property: Pressures of development and change on the Kwan Tai - Tin Hau temple in Cheok Ka Chun, Taipa, Macau,” in Macao: The Formation of a Global City.  He is the co-editor of Penang and Its Networks of Knowledge (2017), a volume that brings together many distinguished scholars of Southeast Asia.  Other projects include a study of the culture of gambling-related crimes in Macau in Crime, Law and Social Change, studies of tourism in Macau and the material culture of magic and trance in Chinese folk religion, as well as a comparison of past, present and future transformations in the meaning and use of public urban space in Macau and São Paulo, Brazil.  Peter has frequently been interviewed about his research and teaching by the media in Macau.



● forthcoming 2018 “The Material Moral Economy of Spirit Possession,” in Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie (Institute of Art History and Musicology, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz) and Leo Ruickbie (eds.). Leiden and Boston: Brill

● forthcoming 2018, Professors Under Siege: Corporatization and Commercialization of Higher Education in Greater China, edited by Zhidong Hao and Peter Zabielskis

● forthcoming 2018 “Penang:  A Pearl of a Place and the Spirit of Materialism” [Chinese translation], [Chinese translation] in Daniel A. Bell (Tsinghua University) (ed.) The Spirit of Cities, volume 2

● 2017  “Challenges of Heritage Development Projects in Macau and Penang: Preservation and Anti-preservation, Ho Hon Leung (State University of New York, Oneonta), Robert Compton (State University of New York, Oneonta) and Yaser Robles (State University of New York, Albany) (eds.), Dynamics of Community Formation: Developing Identity and Notions of Home., New York: Palgrave Macmillan

● 2017 “Introduction: Penang’s Networks of Knowledge and Practice" inPenang and Its Networks of Knowledge: Essays on Society, Culture and History, in Zabielskis and Yeoh (eds.),Penang, Malaysia: Areca Books and Penang Heritage Trust

● 2017 At the Crossroads of History and Development: ‘Unseen’ Heritage and The Built Environment in An Urban Kampung in Penang,” in Zabielskis, Yeoh and Fatland (eds.), Penang and Its Networks of Knowledge, Penang, Malaysia: Areca Books

● 2017  Penang and Its Networks of Knowledge,  edited by Peter Zabielskis, Yeoh Seng Guan (Monash University), and Kat Fatland. Penang, Malaysia: Areca Books

Zabielskis, Peter (2014),  “澳門賭場文化的犯罪、惡習和劣跡”[Aomen duchang wenhua de fanzui, exi yu lieji]
Journal of Macau Studies, 73 (2), 81-96

Zabielskis, Peter (2014) , “Environmental Problems in China: Issues and Prospects,” in Social Issues in China:? Gender, Ethnicity, Labor, and the Environment, edited by Zhidong Hao and Sheying Chen, New York: Springer

Zabielskis, Peter (2014), “Faith and property: Pressures of development and change on the Kwan Tai - Tin Hau temple in Cheok Ka Chun, Taipa, Macau, in Macao: The Formation of a Global City, edited byC.X. George Wei, London and New York: Routledge

Zabielskis, Peter (2013), “Environmental Problems in China: Issues and Prospects,” Proceedings of Eleventh Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities, 10-14 January, Honolulu, Hawaii

Zabielskis, Peter (2012) , “The Environment with Chinese Characteristics: Implications for Policy, Governance, and Political Change,” Journal of Law and Social Sciences, Vol.2, No. 1, December, 99-111. Winner of Best Research Paper award, 2nd Annual International Conference Proceedings, Political Science, Sociology and International Relations (PSSIR), Global Science and Technology Forum (GSTF)

Zabielskis, Peter (2012), “The Significance of Leizhou as a Site for Anthropological Field Research,” in Tian Nan Zhong Di: Lei Zhou Li Shi Wen Hua , Guangdong Museum, Guangzhou: Lingnan Art Press (Lignan Meishu Chuban She)

Zabielskis, Peter (2011), “Expanding Passions: The fourth Hong Kong International Art fair reaches new levels of recognition,” Macau Closer, July

● Wang, Wuyi, and Peter Zabielskis (2010), “Making Friends, Making Money: Macao’s Traditional VIP Casino System in Global Gambling: Cultural Perspectives on Gambling, edited by Sytze F. Kingma (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), London: Routledge Criminology

Zabielskis, Peter (2008), “Towards a moral ecology of the city: A new form of place-based identity and social action in Penang, Malaysia.” Special issue on Place-making and Liveability, edited by K.C. Ho and Mike Douglass, International Development Planning Review, 30 (3), 267-291



2012Best Research Paper Award, Second Annual International Conference on Political Science, Sociology & International Relations (PSSIR), Bali, Indonesia
2003 - 2004Luce Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, The Australian National University
2000 - 2001Dissertation Fellowship, Project on Cities and Urban Knowledges, International Center for Advanced Studies, New York University
1998Fulbright Fellowship, Malaysia
1997Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Dissertation
Field Research Fellowship
Asian Cultural Council Research Fellowship
1991 - 1994National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship



SOCB-111 Reading Sociology

SOCB-120 Introduction to Anthropology

SOCY-213 Environment and Humanity 

SOCB-410 Research Project

Applied Thesis


SOCB-111 Reading Sociology

SOCY-213 Environment and Humanity 

2014 - 2015   

SOCB-111 Reading Sociology 

SOCB-120 Introduction to Anthropology

SOCB262 Theory in Anthropology

SOCY-213 Environment and Humanity 

SOCB-410 Research Project

SOCY-461 Integrative Seminar and Paper in the Major I

SOCY-462 Integrative Seminar and Paper in the MajorII

Honours thesis


SOCY-111 Reading Sociology

SOCB-262 Theory in Anthropology

SOCB-259 Environment and Society

SOCY-411 Senior Semina in Anthropology: The Anthropology of Art and Material Culture

SOCY-461 Integrative Seminar and Paper in the Major I

SOCY-462 Integrative Seminar and Paper in the Major II


  • Interviewed in “Prof. Peter Zabielskis: The Anthropologist who is Fond of Human Culture,” My UM, Issue 62 (October 2016) Tell Us Your Story, pages 4-5 and video


  • Mentioned in “Searching for Overlooked Landscapes: Macao Through the Eyes of UM Alumnus Tang Kuok Hou,” UM Magazine, Issue 16 (Spring/Summer 2017), Interview pages 42-47