Heritagization in Chinese Cities: Practices and Debates

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Heritagization in Chinese Cities: Practices and Debates
Stream: Urban Studies
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Lili Wang, Southern University of Science and Technology, China (organizer, presenter)
Xiaokui Wang, Southern University of Science and Technology, China (chair, discussant)
Qingkai Ma, Hangzhou Normal University, China (presenter)
Qian Guo, Université de Lyon, France (presenter)
Yiqing Zhao, Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (presenter)


Since the 2000s, heritagization has become a major strategy of (re)development and city-branding in Chinese cities. From 798 Art District in Beijing to Xintiandi in Shanghai, from the Broad and Narrow Alley in Chengdu to Enning Road in Guangzhou, these urban redevelopment projects try to integrate or remake local cultural heritages into new urban landmarks and reshape the spatial fabric and place identity of redeveloped areas and cities. Underlying these projects are entwined social, economic, and political rationalities, ranging from local boosterism, urban entrepreneurialism, cultural conservation and rehabilitation, to the rise of cultural tourism, etc. These heritagization projects, however, invariably induce intense conflicts, stirring up debates over the principles and impacts of heritagization. A growing tide, heritagization in Chinese cities poses significant and challenging research questions in a wide range of academic fields.

This panel aims to engage with these questions by exploring and problematizing the embedded social politics of heritagization and various stakeholders shaping these politics, e.g. the states, the mass, local growth coalitions, cultural elites, etc. While the four papers are invariably based on solid empirical studies and primary research sources, they are situated in different local contexts (larger cities vs. smaller cities, northern region vs. southern region) and academic disciplines (i.e. urban sociology, urban planning, heritage studies, and communication studies), therefore presenting diverse theoretical perspectives and research approaches. In so doing, the panel aims to stimulate cross-disciplinary debates and provide fresh empirical findings and theoretical insights in the study of heritage politics in China.