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Research Students - Material Culture
Shu-Li Wang  


Year of start:
Museum Anthropology

Research Topic/ Provisional Dissertation Title

The Poetics and Politics of China's Yinxu Archaeological Park in the Making


Prof. Michael Rowlands
Prof. Christopher Tilley


Taking the Anyang Yinxu archaeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage site in China, as a case study, my thesis project aims to explore the significance of ‘heritage’ in contemporary China. I seek to understand how this area is managed to be displayed for the public gaze, and how this, together with museums and other heritage attractions, contributes to the process of visualizing modern China. Drawing on an intensive fieldwork, interviews, news and policy studies, the thesis project starts with the investigation of the process of staging Yinxu as the nation’s Great Archaeological Site Museum in the post World Heritage designation era, paying special attention to the methods taken and dilemmas encountered for conserving and presenting it. Could cultural memory and nationalism be continued, intensified or transformed through museological practices / heritage making? The dilemmas of heritage conservation (e.g., whether to preserve or to utilize), presentation (e.g., how to visualize archaeological knowledge) and management will be discussed. Secondly, the fieldwork looks into how different stakeholders, such as the state, provincial and local administrations, academics, the media and the public, and local inhabitants, hold various interests toward the site and influence the conservation practices of Yinxu. How do they situate the ideas of cultural heritage per se in their own perspectives? These socio-political, economic, academic usages or consumption of Yinxu World Heritage site will be addressed in the thesis. Lastly, the thesis will trace the history of Chinese approaches to heritage conservation, and will discuss the current phenomenon of the heritage boom in modern China, which forms a heritage-complex industry. Therefore, the thesis will focus on cultural heritage issues surrounding Yinxu archaeological site, and will also examine the current situations of other cultural heritage issues in China into its scope.

Research interests

  • Museum Anthropology
  • Heritage in Development
  • Cultural Memory and Identity Politics
  • Cultural Policies in Taiwan and in China

Academic Background/Education

BA in Political Science, National Taiwan University, Taiwan MA in Archaeology, Leiden University, the Netherlands

Working Experience

Occupation: Museum exhibition developer

Concept development and museum construction

  • Lanyang Eco-Museum, Taiwan (2004-2007)
  • Scientific Archaeology, permanent exhibition of National Museum of Prehistory, Taiwan (2005-2007)

Concept development

  • Designed plan for Ali Mountain and Forest Culture Museum, Chiayi, Taiwan (2005)
  • Virtual reality display of traditional Chinese performing arts, National Center for Traditional Arts, Yilan, Taiwan (2005)
  • Designed plan for Amusement Park of Austronesian people, Taidong, Taiwan (2007)

Research Project

  • “Innovation, Application and Installation of Technologies used in World Expositions”, Minister of Economics, Taiwan (Research on the development of exhibitionary technologies in World Expositions and major museums in the world) (2008)


Wang, S. The Poetics and Politics of China’s Yinxu Archaeological Park in the Making. “WAC Inter-Congress: Heritage Management in East and South East Asia”, edited by Peter Stone and Chen Xingcan. Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Science. (Forthcoming)

Wang, S. (4-7 May 2011). Heritage Branding and the Local Responses - A Case Study of Yin Xu Archaeological Site in China. Why Does the Past Matter?, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA. (Conference Paper)

Wang, S. (12-14 May, 2011). A Comparison of the Development of Museums in two Sides of Taiwan Strait during 1911-1949. 8th Annual Conference of the European Association of Taiwan Studies (EATS), University of Ljubljana, Slovania. (Conference Paper)

Wang, S. (2011). What Do/Should We Preserve? - The Influence of China and Japan on Cultural Heritage Preservation Policy in Taiwan. 2011 NATSA Annual Conference, University of Pittsburgh, USA. (Conference Paper)

Wang, S. (June 2011). Heritage Branding and their Social Impact. Summer School of Heritage Conserved and Contested: Asian and European Perspectives, Leiden University. (Conference Paper)


2008-2011 Governmental Scholarship for Taiwanese Students Studying Abroad
2011 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship of Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange

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