1st Edition

Heritage Politics in China The Power of the Past

By Yujie Zhu, Christina Maags Copyright 2020
    172 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    172 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Heritage Politics in China: The Power of the Past studies the impact of heritage policies and discourses on the Chinese state and Chinese society. It sheds light on the way Chinese heritage policies have transformed the narratives and cultural practices of the past to serve the interests of the present.

    As well as reinforcing a collective social identity, heritage in China has served as an instrument of governance and regulation at home and a tool to generate soft power abroad. Drawing on a critical analysis of heritage policies and laws, empirical case studies and interviews with policymakers, practitioners, and local communities, the authors off er a comprehensive perspective on the role that cultural heritage plays in Chinese politics and policy. They argue that heritage-making appropriates international, national, and local values, thereby transforming it into a public good suitable for commercial exploitation. By framing heritage as a site of cooperation, contestation, and negotiation, this book contributes to our understanding of the complex nature of heritage in the rapidly shifting landscape of contemporary China.

    Heritage Politics in China: The Power of the Past is essential reading for academics, researchers and students in the fi elds of heritage studies, cultural studies, Asian studies, anthropology, tourism and politics.

    1. Introduction: The Power of the Past; 2. Heritage: A Cultural History;  3.Institutions and Discourse;  4. Xi’an: Urban Heritage;  5. Nanjing: Living Heritage;  6. Lijiang: Ethnic Heritage;  7. Heritage-making: Value Appropriation and Responses;  8. Conclusion: Past, Present and Future




    Yujie Zhu is Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies, the Australian National University. He is the author of Heritage and Romantic Consumption in China and the co-editor of Politics of Scale: New Directions in Critical Heritage Studies.

    Christina Maags is Lecturer in Chinese Politics at the Politics Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Christina’s research interests focus on the politics around cultural heritage in the People’s Republic of China.

    This very timely book opens doors to heritage making as a political process. With a focus on China and local political processes, it will reorient and illuminate the way in which heritage theorists regard the value of heritage.

    Prof Michael Rowlands. University College London

    The book comprehends a persuasive and inclusive view on heritage politics in an East Asian context, and it is a landmark of critical heritage studies in China. The book reflects the role of heritage in relation to both politics and the demands of everyday private life. It provides a solid foundation for exploring further possibilities of emerging directions in heritage studies, such as digital heritage and heritage creativity.

    Xuanlin Liu, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology