Institute of Archaeology

Critical Perspectives on Cultural Heritage in China

This intensive course offers a unique opportunity to explore critical dimensions of the discourse and practice of cultural heritage in contemporary China. Cultural heritage in China now occupies a prominent place in national and local strategies of economic development, and has variously adapted in different localities with often conflictive results. Yet, contemporary ideas about what constitutes heritage in China are embedded in longer term perspectives rooted in philosophical and cosmological principles of identity and which resonate throughout the East Asian world. In the course, we will be examining both the characteristics and consequences of these developments for our understanding of contemporary problems of cultural community cohesion, cultural reproduction and survival.

We will do this through addressing distinct themes, each of which will form the core of each session of this intensive course:

  • Cultural heritage discourse and practice in China now: a critical overview
  • UNESCO and its impact on the construction of heritage in China
  • Heritage and nation building
  • Museums, archives and collections (a)
  • Museums, archives and collections (b)
  • Commodification of heritage and heritage value
  • Destruction and reconstruction of heritage
  • Memory, history and transmission
  • Place, space and cosmology
  • Healing, redemption and well-being
  • Ethnic identity and heritage communities

Each session will include a specific case study and will address key cross-cutting themes, including gender, generation and mobility. Visits to Chinatown and local museums will be organised.

Course information

  • Code: ARCLG329
  • Credits: 15
  • Coordinator: Mike Rowlands
  • Prerequisite:
  • Handbook:

For registered students

  • Moodle page:
  • Reading list: 


  • Not running in 2016-17

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