SPEAKER 1: The following is part of Cornell Contemporary China Initiative lecture series under the Cornell East Asia program. The arguments and viewpoints of this talk belongs solely to the speaker. We hope you enjoy.
SPEAKER 2: So Yujie Zhu finished his PhD in anthropology at Heidelberg University in 2013 and then took a post-doctorate position at Australian National University in their center, the Australian Center on China in the World, where he is about a year in and has a year to go still. He has been working for his career on some of the things we'll hear about today on heritage and heritage tourism, particularly, and will be speaking to us about some material I think from the second book that he's working on.
But the first book will be out before too very long. The first book is to be called Marrying the Past, Performances in Lijiang's Tourist Weddings. And you know, weddings that occur at tourist sites in some part of the spectacle. So he has a study of that coming out before too very long in book form. So we're very happy to have him all the way from Australia to talk to us-- all the way from Germany and Australia. Thanks.
YUJIE ZHU: First of all, I would really like to thank everyone here, especially East Asian Program that invite me to be here. It's really an honor to be in Cornell. And it's especially very special. Special because I've been out of Germany. And I was in Australia for two years. I really miss white Christmas. And this is very special April Christmas for me because I feel really warm-hearted and feel warm hospitality in such a kind of white world. But it's warm inside. I keep it.
And today, I apologize, I will not have music here like what are you going to have next few weeks. But I have some performance here. I'm not going to dance with you. But we have some performance here. And hope you will stay. Today's topic, I'm talking about a culture heritage fever in China, discourse and practices. That's a kind of overview of my former 15 years ethnographic work in China.
In 2013, 2014, around, I was in Xi'an and doing my field work on my new project. And I was interviewing in that temple. You can see that from here. That day, June 22, I got very great news from my friend who was working in UNESCO. And they had just had a-- having a conference in [INAUDIBLE] that the Silk Road was just being nominated as World Cultural Heritage site.
It's a new category, called Cultural Route. So several countries, especially in the corridor between Kazakhstan and China and Kazakhstan have been nominated. That's great news because China has been actively participating in that campaign for 10 and 15 years around.
But I was in that particular temple. That day, the monks who live in this temple, they also have a big celebration. The reason is also related to this heritage issue. During the Silk Road campaign, this particular temple, which is called Xianjiao temple, Xianjiao [INAUDIBLE]. The middle of a temple, there, the pagoda, which are the burial place for Xianjiao, who are very famous Tang pilgrimage into India, sent by [? Tang, ?] [? Tang ?] Xianjiao. And came back to Chang'an in Tang dynasty and bringing lot of Indians scripts. So he was buried in this pagoda.
Because of the nomination process, we need experts to evaluate the [INAUDIBLE] heritage sites to be included in the nomination. And the pagoda was heritage, apparently, because it has very kind of cultural value. But the buildings around it, it was built in 1980s, some in the early 1990s.
So according to experts, they think that the buildings around it, they are not heritage. So they should be demolished, should be cleansed. And all the monks who are living there, eating there, meditating there, should be relocated somewhere else, 20 kilometer away from here. So this particular place, this temple, they are celebrating after almost one-year fight with the local government to keep their temple, to keep their meditation center, to keep their content, to keep their dormitory.
And on that day, when one way we can see the global campaign that China was winning, has successfully get another category of heritage called Silk Road. The same time, the local temple, they also win the campaign. That they successfully, this temple was keep in the whole category of Silk Road included, but without relocating all the buildings.
That's come to a question to me that why-- and what happening in China, that we have such kind of heritage fever that a lot of people are participating in this campaign. But the same time, there's a lot of resistance, a lot of politics behind it.
We first back to the what is heritage fever means? I'm trying to tell you that there is-- if you check out the current situation in World Heritage List, which is made by UNESCO, that China is almost the top one. They're right after Italy. But imagine that China is just joined this whole World Heritage List in recent 10, 15 years, after 1982. So it's only this 20 years they become the top of the whole world.
And if you check back in the public media in Chinese resources, this is People's Daily. And I look at from 2000 to 2014. And if you put in keyword, like "culture heritage" in Chinese, [SPEAKING CHINESE], in People's Daily, and you could find that the frequency and also that this particular keyword was emerging in recent years. And particularly around 2010, it's become such a booming. So it sounds like the media, that the public discourse is everyone is talking about that culture heritage.
Then I realized that really there is a culture heritage fever. So today, my talk, I will have following questions. What are the reason for the heritage fever? How do heritage discourse affect different social groups? And what are the responses?
To answer these questions, I will have following structure of this talk. I will tell you about what is heritage, why culture heritage fever in China, which kind of heritage effects-- how does heritage affect local grown people, what are the local response, and some kind of final thoughts and the summary.
So start with, what is "heritage?" When we come up this term "heritage," maybe some kind of concept come into our mind will be culture, tradition, memory, monuments, objects, sites, cultural landscape. And recently, we heard a lot about intangible heritage, cultural roots. That's a new one attached to sacred idea.
But what I'm talking about today is rather looking at a critical approach of heritage studies. I'm looking at regarding heritage as a process related to human action and agency. It's authorized discourse that is starting from European ideology. And particularly, if we look at Chinese discourse, it's going to Chinese translation, a lot of vocabulary getting to China. And there is official interpretation.
But it's also a political act. So in this process, a top-down process, there is a lot of recognition, listing-- so there is a World Heritage List-- naming, and performing. So there is a political recognition of what heritage should be. But in the meantime, it's not only a political discourse like this. There are also practices. It's a body response. There is emotion behind it. There's also memory. So that's kind of discourse I'm trying to talking about, and looking at from a critical approach.
So I just very briefly introduce you a bit what heritage means. So it start from UNESCO when they try to develop a World Heritage Center, a new agency in recent 100 years, that start a category of cultural sites and nature sites, which are basically looking at monuments and architecture and objects and later looking at nature parts.
But it's only a secretary agency. So they need advisory board, like experts, to help them to look at the whole category and also the process of listing and categorizing. So it's through a process that they come from a local government, that they prepare a tentative application and come to a nation government. This country usually a state party of UNESCO. They are the donator. They are the most important part of how this game works.
So China is becoming, recently years, becoming a key actor of the UNESCO World Heritage campaign, especially after recent years where United States just went out. So each year, there would be a national government and submit a proposal. And each year, there would be one heritage site. It could be tangible or intangible. And then there would be advisory board, which is ICOMOS, focusing on monuments, IUCN, which focus on nature sites, and ICCROM focus on restoration and conservation.
So these three major board, with other 1,000 other relative small boards, would come together and evaluate it. After the evaluation, each year, there would be a heritage committee, a convention, a conference. They would decide the new list and put it on the World Heritage List. So that's a process, which is very institutionalization.
But recently, in recent years, an apologist is working in the convention and found out that it's not only about the results from the advisory board but rather also a lot of time is about a diplomatic relationship. It's a lot of international relationship and diplomatic meetings happening in that convention.
So when I come to culture heritage in China, the World Heritage Convention is in 1972 when UNESCO defined what is world heritage, which kind of criteria about world heritage. And later in 2003, after 20, 30 years discussion between European countries and Asian countries, especially Japan, Korea, and in China, they developed an Intangible Heritage Convention which is more focused on folklores, performance, and handicrafts.
China joined Heritage Convention in 1985, which is right during the time when China, as the People's Republic of China, joined a lot of United Nations' Convention. That similar time, joined UNESCO, also they joined UNICEF. They joined World HO, the health organization. And later, 2004, they joined ICH Convention, which is the intangible one.
So just like this model, they start with European ideology, came to Chinese translation, and later do a lot of translation here. So the former category, called [SPEAKING CHINESE], cultural relics, were translated into-- transform into [SPEAKING CHINESE], cultural heritage. And intangible culture heritage was translated into [SPEAKING CHINESE].
It's really debatable, both in the official discourse and also in the academic, intellectual discourse, because how you translate the sense of intangible culture. But it's a very political act. When it has been written in the law, then it was defined by the government. It's called [SPEAKING CHINESE]. So I'm talking about the laws and new intuitions here.
They're related. A lot of new heritage agency was developed in Beijing, in central state level. So even they exist maybe before in other format. But now, they emphasize the nation of culture heritage here. There are new laws, particularly for the intangible cultural heritage emerging in recent years, 2006. So basically, this is a government-led project. And there are experts who support it.
So the government, which it's funded with a lot of money and to support it's official interpretation and legalization. But same time, you need experts from the central state, from the academic board, from different university in provision level, in the local level, to support the application process.
Just like what it's doing, if you can see the picture here, that's from a local town in [SPEAKING CHINESE], local county [SPEAKING CHINESE]. And they list the intangible culture inheritor, which is a person who obtain the ability to transform or perform the intangible culture heritage. So they list a provision level, these are the county level, and they also list a national level. So there are different levels, people who represent they're intangible culture heritage. And in that story actually, they are in the same village and competing to each other.
I just very briefly talk about what is culture heritage. And now I'm go over through the question of why culture heritage fever in China? Why at moment? I'm looking at three perspective, historical, political, and sociocultural.
Historical perspective, if we look back to the imperial China, we had a long tradition of culturalism instead of nationalism that [SPEAKING CHINESE] is always a sense of ideology that we use, not a sense of nation state, but rather looking at a morality, hierarchy, a Confucian ideology. And there is a continuation of circulation. So each dynasty there is a kind of habit that we-- the emperor destroyed the former past of traditional culture and build up a new kind of culture heritage to reconstruction it.
But material culture different from European kind of stone-made architecture. Material culture is not so important. So they are not looking really the continuation of material monuments as a symbol of eternity or longevity, but rather looking at the continuation of spirit through documentary and literacy. So even material can fade away. But the spirit of art or the handicrafts, the skills can continue.
So it's also influenced by the Confucian ideology, that it's not about creation, creativity, but rather about transmission. So we are transmit through generation by generation that this kind of ideology come back, that kind of dialogue with the Western idea of authenticity that Chinese art may not really look at the roots or authenticity.
One of the best examples, I still think that's a good example, is mentioned by one of sinologist, Pierre Ryckmans, who just passed away last year. And here is talk about this very famous calligraphy written by [INAUDIBLE] and [SPEAKING CHINESE], preface of the [INAUDIBLE]. And in his article, he mentioned that even that's the most important and famous calligraphy, but we still don't know when it's made it and how it was made it. And we don't know it is original and it's transmitted. So there are different scholars discussing about it in recent 100 year.
But the point he wanted to point out is maybe it's not important. Maybe it's not important when and how he [INAUDIBLE] wrote it. Or maybe it's even not [INAUDIBLE] wrote it. But art is continuing through keeping, mentioning, and copying, and writing, and designing. So the calligraphy, this [SPEAKING CHINESE], can become the most important art, calligraphy in China.
If we jump back to the 19, 20, recent 20th century, Chinese way of culture heritage display or exhibition is not out of blue. We have such a kind of experience in recent 100 years. China already participate in World Exhibition in 1851. That's the first time we were invited to London and later to Paris to show our Chinese civilization.
And later, we got some kind of experience. And we, in 1910, Qing state, invite American and European go there and organize the first World Exhibition, so-called Nanyang Exhibition. In that exhibition, they sent experts to everywhere in China, and come back to Nanyang, do a lot of collection and categorizing and exhibiting the cultural traditions.
So they already had this kind of experience in that period of time. Later in 1910, 1920, we know that in New Culture Movement that certain kind of people, not only from the emperor culture but they are starting to looking at-- they're in search of authenticity. They are looking back to the future. We should looking at the ground somewhere in the village, somewhere in art.
Parallel, the folklore studies was developed in the Beijing University. So they studied poem, art. We have to locate ground where Chinese culture should be, not only from the imperial high culture but somewhere more empirical. That's also the similar time later, a bit later, like 1930s, '40s, when a lot of scholars were sent to United States and EU and study a new discipline like archeology, architecture, conservation, museum studies. So they went back to China.
And then they participate in different scholarship in universities or develop certain kind of new association, such kind of archeology, architecture association. That's a time that the Western discipline of archeology, architecture, which very related close to heritage, has been developed. And they kind of borrowing the Western American way of view of looking at a conservation or European way of conservation. And then they translate-- transform it into Chinese way of looking at traditional culture heritage or traditional arts.
In recent 50, 60 years, we look back to China. Then we find out that's more a new area. It's still kind of in a similar pattern that-- although we know that 1950s, there's ethnic identification, [SPEAKING CHINESE]. But if we compare 1950s [SPEAKING CHINESE] and the Nanyang Exhibition, you can find, of course, the context would be totally different and the purpose very different. But the methodology, the way of the doing, is very similar.
That they are sending experts from Peking or Nanyang or Nanking. They go to everywhere in the rural area and collecting different arts exhibition, art category. And then come back and then categorize, and classify them, and display it in exhibition way. And that's becoming [SPEAKING CHINESE], performance.
And in recent, contemporary years, we are very familiar with the history. We went through a culture evolution. And we join the Heritage Convention in 1985, which is the similar time that China joined international regime.
That was a bit historical, very quick. But now I'm looking at international perspective, that we join international regime, 1980s. And we started-- the reason behind it's not only about a culture part but also where we have the attitude that we embrace, we open ourself, and we embrace the global regime. So we are shaping. But same time, we are also trying to shape international rules of the game. We're not only the recipients.
But if you look at other regimes, like WHO or refugees or other kind of rules and conventions, you can find that China donate a lot of money in particular projects. They're trying to shape the regime. They're trying shape the rules of the game. So similar things happen in UNESCO World Heritage Convention. China also spent a lot of energy and time to facilitate their own goals here.
The same time, they also facilitate their own regional agenda. So it's not only about international agenda, but it's also about the regional agenda like the Silk Road I just mentioned here. That China is continuously using the idea of Silk Road. It could try to connect with Central Asia, Eurasia countries and Russia as kind of way of cultural diplomacy.
So even now the recent One Belt, One Road. One Belt is [INAUDIBLE] belt. And then the One Road is about Silk Road. So that's more focus on the economic infrastructure building. But similar time, the culture part is facilitated that kind of regional agenda of economic development. So cultural heritage is become the tool of culture diplomacy in a regional sense.
In the domestic part, in recent 20, 30 years, if we-- I'm not going through the details of each generation of our leadership. Even we have different kind of slogan or initiative or strategy. We may call them harmonious society. We may call them Chinese dream. But we have a kind of commonality in centrist way that they're looking at, of course, [INAUDIBLE]. Economic prosperity will be the priority. And also, especially, in recent years, social stability will be the major focus.
The China government also very interested in the domestic political agenda if they're looking at minority management. So how we deal with the minorities, it's not only 1950 ethnic identification. When the project complete, then everything complete. No. Chinese government has to continuously dealing with different minorities.
Some minority may be very friendly, closer to the Han. Some might not. So they have to find a way to deal with different strategy relate to different kind of minority here. So rural tourism is becoming a cultural heritage, especially in minority in southwest China, northwest China, become a kind of tool of governance to dealing with ethnic solidarity.
In a city, where it happens is exactly the similar way, that we find that in a coastal area, a lot of new territory, a lot of [SPEAKING CHINESE] was developed. But same time, a lot of urban renewal use heritage as a theme was also being developed, such as, what I'm doing currently in Xi'an. They are theming the Chang'an Dynasty.
So the ideology of the old and the new, both of them, if maybe we look at maybe the back parts and maybe the future, they come together to facilitate urban governance because it's a different theme. But the theming part that try to facilitate us, facilitated for citizenship, to looking for something called Chineseness.
It's a kind of inbuilt strategy that it's like the example of [SPEAKING CHINESE]. It's not like top down and telling you that we have [SPEAKING CHINESE] inside of body. But once it's becoming inside and if you become really believe there is a [SPEAKING CHINESE] here and if everyone's talking about [SPEAKING CHINESE] and if everyone thinking about [SPEAKING CHINESE], and it's become real.
So that's also happening here that if we're looking at the past or the old ideology and a new, it's becoming part of daily life. And that's kind of government mentality. It's becoming real. It's become your everyday life.
To support it, to legitimize it, and to make it as a real, Chinese government need experts. So there's a lot of institution, like university or National Academy of Science. They develop projects. And so a lot of heritage experts is booming up and mushroomed from different discipline and especially from folklore studies, anthropology, sociology, culture study, archeology. Different disciplines is developing heritage projects. And we can see a lot of grant from the state level has been keeping supporting heritage projects. And a lot of new discipline was emerged. So that's all supporting these kind of projects which emphasizing what is the heritage fever.
This is the reason one about the canal, which is just recently nominated similar time with the Silk Road. So expertise were supporting, was presenting in kind of like culture forum to telling people and performing that the culture heritage is part of the Chinese dream. So that's a bit particular perspective.
We have being experienced in recent 20 years that a lot of rapid urbanization. So rural/urban become very blurred, that a lot of rural people suddenly they get their [SPEAKING CHINESE]. But then suddenly, they also lost their home, lost their rural environment. And also there are a lot of changing cities. So there are a lot of social transition and a lot of change of traditional social network.
It's a kind of sense of discontinuity that somehow we lost the short memory. We don't feel that we are-- we don't know where we are. And we getting short vision. So we don't know where the future is. So that's all of these reasons which I just mentioned and has been create a certain kind of anxiety. And that's kind of focus that I'm interested, that anxiety, especially in cities level, but also peasants when they get into the urban area.
They create certain kind of anxiety inside. And it's found out the kind of identity crisis. I'm interested in what's the reason behind the heritage fever? If we look back to the past, look back, for instance, the Song period. That's the time Chinese was attacked by the Mongolian and Qing. And they feel anxiety as a similar identity crisis because they were attacked by other enemies.
But now it's because of the rapid urbanization, the social transition. But what come out is a similar thing, there's a commonality. We have certain kind of anxiety. So we create certain desire inside of human being. So there is a desire in the populace for heritage. It's certain kind of nostalgia, certain kind of romanticization.
And also in recent years, a lot of private collections. So people, not the state, Chinese people start to collect different things. It could be traditional clothes. It could be handicrafts. It could be traditional courtyard, disappearing courtyard. It could be archaeological objects. It could be everything. So private museum was emerged.
But [INAUDIBLE] different. These kind of practices have been two way of looking at it. One is either traveling and consuming or producing certain kind of other time. So we went back to the past. That creates a certain kind of private museum. So the private museum display this kind of object. Another form is we traveling to other place. That could be rural tourism.
So Han Chinese in the coastal areas are going somewhere in the minority area and investigate the other place to satisfy their desire of nostalgia. Somewhere they're lost in the urban area. Somewhere they are lost in the urban mundane. So this two format creates this kind of form of Han Chinese go into minority area and experience the others.
So I just briefly talking about why cultural heritage fever in China from the political, historical, and sociocultural perspective. Now I'm talking about what heritage has affect in China, especially different group of people. I'm talking about different effects. Before that, I introduce you three of my sites, which as an anthropologist, I am doing a little bit field work in different, particular place.
The first project, as Robby mentioned, I was looking at Southwest China in Yunnan, Lijiang. In this project, I'm particularly interesting how Lijiang was nominated as World Heritage site. And also I'm looking at the interaction between heritage and ethnic tourism, so how this place used to be a paradise for the Western backpackers, adventurers in the late 19th century, 20th century, and now become a mass tourism, Han paradise place.
Second project, I'm looking at [INAUDIBLE]. Different from the first one is a town, ethnic town, minority town. This is a Buddhist area. But in recent years, it's become a scenic area. It's called in Chinese, [SPEAKING CHINESE]. So used to be a peasant's area where they have a lot of land of farming, where still a very sacred Buddhist sites.
But because of heritage and also local governance to transform it into a heritage tourism destination, so they create a scenic area, [SPEAKING CHINESE], and transform it into a kind of museum of Buddhism. Because of that, I'm interested in the interaction between heritage governments and local farmers because farmers lost their land, they surrender their land. And they are continuously interact and negotiate with the local government.
The third case study, I'm working on the urban area. Different from the first minority town, second in the mountain Buddhists heritage site, and transform into north City in Xi'an. Since most of people who aren't from China, from European or America, are familiar with Xi'an because that's the most symbol of Chinese civilization.
In recent years, people not only interested in like terracotta army, this kind of first symbol of Chinese civilization from Qing dynasty, but also I'm particularly interested in the recent 50 years, recent project that a local government since 2005 spent $23 billion dollars into this city and transform the city from what used to be industrial area, industrial city, into a functional replica of Tang Chang'an. So they developed a lot of projects in this city and connect with the imagined Tang area.
Now I'm describing the findings of these three case studies, of the effects of so-called heritage effects. The first one is once a place has been nominated as a World Heritage Site or local heritage site, there will be a new form of heritage governance. So, for instance, in Lijiang, there is a Lijiang World Heritage Bureau. Was emerged during the time when they were nominated. They prepared a nomination.
And in Emeishan, there's also a main management committee. So they often appears in the local level or sometimes in a county level. But what I find interesting is both of them, they start with a management bureau or management committee. And later, they create a kind of company behind it. But usually, the director of the company is the same or sharing the same director of the company. So they can be easily legitimized to involved in economic development or commercial practices.
Even like Emeishan appeared in 2006, 2004. They are on the stock market. So they can easily to get investment from-- get a loan from a bank. They can do hotel management. They can do a lot of real estate industry. So all of this can be involved.
The second heritage effect-- I'm looking at heritage become a new tool of economic development-- that because of-- even most of time, what we see is in the city level or in the county level, the mayor or the decision maker in the county level, they might stay their position for shortened period, maybe three years, maybe four years, maybe even shorter.
So what they have to do is something visual, something spectacular. So they can write their progress in their evaluation reports so they can be measured and easily they can jump into other project later or other positions, another city, just like tenure track. So prepare to nomination become such kind of vanity project because it's visible, it's infrastructural, it's easy to be measured, and also money is inside.
So once it's become a heritage, you can invoke heritage tourism, increasing tourism coming and to consume. And a lot of admission fee, so for instance, in Lijiang and Emeishan, I found both of them after nomination that the admission fee was increased, triple, or double, or even more.
And also when the site was involved with heritage and tourism, a lot of time they're involved with real estate development. So the land, the price of land was increased. So the effects of gentrification both happen in Lijiang and Xi'an. There is a land issue here. This is in the south of Xi'an where a new district called Qujiang, when a local committee member, a local management committee is branding this area as a town paradise.
And the land around it was branded as middle class real estate industry. So the price becoming very high, almost become the highest in the city. So there's a gentrification effect where only the middle class can affordable to have that. And local, formerly peasants and farmer in the village or city village, they were relocated to somewhere else.
And in Lijiang is different story. But there's a government policy that the local houses should not be purchased by outsiders. But just because the tourists or entrepreneurs came to Lijiang and stay there and do a lot of investment. So the land price still going up because the rent prices going up. So local villagers, local residents, they got a lot of money from the rent. But they move out and stay in the new city. So the gentrification effect happens in both places.
The third effect I'm talking about is cultural branding and theming. We already talked about a bit like that in the former sections. But here, in these three cases, it is very apparent. Lijiang, they are branding the ethnic town as oriental paradise, when in 20th century, early 20th century when a lot of European adventures came to this place. And has very kind of a romantic [INAUDIBLE], kind of Shangri-La. That's another branding. There's something frozen in time, something disappearing.
And recently, in recent 15 years, it's become a city of love or city of romance that a lot of Chinese, Han Chinese, going in and hunting for this kind of form of romance. So that's a format that there's a street life, a nightlife. There's a bar street around here. And Chinese Han tourism going around in this place and search for romance.
Different from Lijiang, Emeishan branding them and theme it as a sacred Buddhism destination. So it's not only looking at a pilgrimage, like the Buddhist believers going there. But it's also about the tourists that they, nonbelievers, they also go to this place and worship it. I saw many people, Han Chinese. They're nonbelievers. But they really believe this monument.
So what they did is, the local government did is, they established the biggest [SPEAKING CHINESE] in that area, in that region and for people to worship. In Xi'an, as I mentioned, that they are branding the city recently as imagined Tang Chang'an, and also branding it as a starting point of the Silk Road. The city of Xi'an is competing with Luoyang, another historical city, and successfully got the name of the start of the Silk Road. Is it important or not? But believe me, they are doing a lot of competition, a lot of campaign to get that name in the official documents by UNESCO.
The fourth effect, I'm looking at space. When something has become a heritage, there is an effect of spatial separation. What I call spatial separation is separate space of heritage in people daily life. So when something as a heritage you put into a museum or somewhere in enclosed area, so they create zoning laws, safety standards, or sometimes establish a physical boundary, like walls or fences.
So there is a frozen effect, a freezing heritage in time for consumption. So what do we find in this place? We have already seen that the [SPEAKING CHINESE], that they are in the middle of somewhere in top of the mountain of Emeishan for people to worship. So everywhere else are being cleansed and spatial cleansing.
And the Xianjiao temple, as mentioned in the beginning, that they like to have the pagoda as a heritage site. And other buildings which are not heritage should be cleansed. And people should be relocated. So there is a special cleansing effect to make it frozen in time and make it as a heritage sites.
The fifth effect from what heritage brought to China is value shifting or what I call it authentication. Usually, there will be a week-- if we sometimes you will call something heritage, sometime, often it's related with authenticity. That it's often it is the official experts or institutions. They authenticate something as heritage, which has more value.
So rather, I'm talking about the nature of authenticity, I'm interested in the process of authentication. So how and when official experts to nominate and authenticate and criticize something as heritage. In this process, once it's become recognized heritage, it will be often regarded as being of high moral, aesthetic, and economic value. So the result is something used to be bad becoming good, cheaper, become more expensive. Superstition, [SPEAKING CHINESE], become culture heritage.
That's what I found [INAUDIBLE] that the local shaman is religious practices called Dongba, which is kind of banned and prohibited in doing a cultural revolution, regarded as superstition, [SPEAKING CHINESE], was recently was revitalized and reborn as a form of culture, institutionalized by officials and academics, scholars, time scholars. But the discourse of it and that because of this revitalization, also the heritage tourism that used to be a superstition now as a symbol of [SPEAKING CHINESE] civilisation. So used to be backward or bad, now becoming good, proud, good. And also become expensive because there are a lot of commercialisation, a commodity happens in the market.
So I just mentioned briefly different effects from what has heritage bring to the whole discourse. Now I am emphasize the local response. What locals, local, different group of people, they are respond to these heritage effects. What I've found out that they are not only passive recipients of this kind of top-down effects. Rather, they are doing different way of communicating and countering with such kind of effects. I'm explaining them one by one in different sites.
First of all, I'm looking at Lijiang, this [INAUDIBLE], which I'm interested in the local religious performance and practices. As Robby mentioned, I've studied the local religious wedding, that this person, he is a Dongba, which means he's a religious shaman, religious practitioner. And he grew up from a Dongba family. His father, his uncle were all Dongba.
But during the cultural revolution, the whole practice was banned and prohibited. So his father is not allowed to practice anything of the religious practice. All of this religious instrument was burned and cannot be existing anything at home. And later he-- in early 1980s-- that county, in [INAUDIBLE], the local government started support the revitalization of culture heritage.
So what they did is they started training program for them. So his father become the one founder of that kind of training. And so he grew up and started to think about that, should I be something else? I should find another job. Or I should inherit my father's legacy? So he chose to come back. So what he did, instead of study from his father, who passed away very quickly. And later, he came to Lijiang and studied in local Dongba research institution, which is the first Dongba institution in that area supported by local government.
And many of the Chinese Han scholars who teaching there are teaching local Dongba how to write and translate the scripts. So he was graduate as the first generation of students from this local state-supported institution's program. And he got certificate. He's very proud of that. And because of that, he has an authorized, official certificate. So is very easy to find a job in a job market.
There's a lot of other kind of fake Dongba. They are not really Dongba. They got a bit kind of attachment to when they are in a village. But then they came to Lijiang and starting to become a Dongba in the souvenir market. So they are doing painting, or they're doing kind of singing and performance. But he got the certificate. So he want to be somewhere officially recognized instead of only in the tourism market.
So he came to this courtyard, which is a collaborative project between the local government and the local entrepreneurial culture industry. So he was involved as one performer and performing wedding ritual, this so-called [SPEAKING CHINESE] ritual in this wedding courtyard. But because of limitation of time and space, he cannot-- former ritual last longer because there is a host/guest relationship. They had to invite the guest being there for three days. So they keeping chanting. And the local guests also keeping chanting for different kind of purpose, religious purpose.
But here the tourists are not so patient to be there for that long. So what he did, so he transformed a three/four days ritual to five minutes ritual. That the peoples they bring there and then sitting there and then he chanting there. And then they celebrate it, the whole wedding. But maybe some of the scholars from the Dongba institution was thinking that, oh, this is not real. This is only for commercialization. This is for fun.
But what he said is, I don't mind if they, who can be the Dongba experts from institution from the government, take it as a performance or just for fun. I can tell that today's ritual is effective. And during my continuous conversation with him, he's continuously emphasize his early time when the culture-- of how bad the cultural revolution is and how great now the culture came back. And I got trained in a government. Now the government respect me and really want to come back and promote work on it.
So he started to do that kind of project. And now he's adopted also a discourse. But at the same time, he's practicing it and making new meanings for that. So he's practicing as a kind of identity that I'm performing my Dongba identity.
Different from that case of the Dongba, in Emeishan, as I mentioned, 17,000 farmers lost their land when the local government transformed the place into a senior park, tourism park. So as promised, 3% compensation from the income should go back to the farmer. But actually not. So a local farmer is trying to negotiating with the local government.
In one way, it could be a bit softer, like this guy, Laowang. So what he did is he's selling local traditional medicine. And he's telling the tourist that this is traditional cultural heritage. I'm selling it because it's a great heritage. It's sharing kind of culture heritage value there.
But it's illegal because he's not authorized by local government. So he's playing kind of hide and seek with security. And there's a security park, so security going around and check if anything not allowed happening there. And so he was going around and escaping from that security and selling his stuff to the tourists. But luckily, he got a relative who are in security team. So he can get informed in advance by the security saying, oh, I'm coming this area. So please escape from me and going somewhere else. So they are playing this kind of game. I always call survival techniques.
But after 10 years, this kind of negotiation between family and government. Finally, in 2014, there is a local demonstration on site. So they blocked the entrance to the mountains. And asking for-- you can see it from this picture-- they are asking the certificate of the forest and woodland tenured right, which is the right of the land and also the 3% of compensation, the money. So they are fighting for the pride and price.
And after several days, a stop in this entrance to the park, this has been noticed by the public media. And there is a notice in the provincial level government. And provincial level government sent a letter back to the local level. And two deputy director of the committee were fired. And the farmer officially, now we're talking about official paper, they got what they want. They win. But the story is continuing. I will look forward to go back to that place and see how the result is.
That's kind of fight happening on the street. But this is different when I saw in another part of street in Xi'an is I mentioned that the effect of spatial separation. So this is a city wall. When we call city wall, you have a boundary making. You have city inside and outside of city. Because that's inside and outside city is a buffer area where it should be clean, I mean it should be clean, there are no building or souvenir shops or anything allow to be there, gathering around there.
But these people usually live in the city. They are living that as a local resident from their childhood. Later, they were working there. And some of them retired. But now a lot of building was destroyed and transforming into the heritage Tang, imagine Tang, emperor city. So they were relocated. And now they came back. They like to be here. Some of them still live inside. Not all of people went back.
So they like to come back here. And some of them play [SPEAKING CHINESE], drinking tea, dancing in the square in the evening and singing the traditional [INAUDIBLE] opera, local opera. So they are not fighting against the government. But they are occupying this place daily, every day, to claim, that's my heritage. That's kind of sense of nostalgia.
It's not nostalgia from the government to claim that, oh, there's a [SPEAKING CHINESE], which is a civilization. Nobody has experienced that. But these are the personal experience. So that's kind of nostalgia which based on their personal experience from their childhood, from what they eat, what they look, what they have. And now they come back to this place and claim that's still their heritage.
Something may happen even more contrast away. I told you that the story of the Xingjiao temple. Actually there's-- in last, past years-- is online campaign that's supported by the local experts, local scholars and with National Association of Buddhism from Beijing and also a lot of media. So they started an online campaign. They are not demonstration in the inner temple. That doesn't work in the temple. Because they're not stop in entrance to the park. There's no park here.
So they did online campaign here. And what they did-- here's a slogan of that. We don't want-- if you read here in Chinese-- we don't want destroy our heritage to claim, nominate something as a heritage. We do want cheat our ancestor for the reason of promoting tourism. That's not only mistake. That's a crime.
So what we find here is interesting that they win. In the last year, we have found that the place was maintained. And it's still as a nominee as cultural heritage. But stories still continue because the monks don't know what the future is because the local administration continued to come here, intervene with them. But we do know that during that campaign, the monks also suggest by experts someone else used the same language of the government. They use the same language by the government, using heritage, use ancestor, using tourism, and using climb to participate in that kind of campaign.
Summary of the local response. There is a mix of dynamic different response from practices. They can be adapt, accept like in heritage discourse. The local practitioner, he is accepting that. There can be redefining it. So the Dongba ritual practitioner, he defining that as one or my pride, one of my ritual and my identity.
But there are also different form of resistance or protests. This could be on a street. This could be online. This could be another kind of very softer, kind of James Scott way of thinking that they are doing their own way of resistance.
But what do they resist? Do they really resist the heritage conservation that symbolizing as a good of archaeological scholarship and ideological [INAUDIBLE]? No. They are not against that one. Do they really resist national, local pride, nostalgia and a desire? No, they are not resisting that because everything already embedded in their mind. They are nostalgic for that, their pride of being a monk, being a Dongba, being a citizens.
What do they really resist? They really resist a threat of personal interests. When something come out to their land, to their home, to their houses, they are against something of that. So once I'm satisfied with when I got enough money of compensation, when I got my land back, when I got enough house, when I was relocated, I'm happy about that. I can share with other people and with the government, with the state, the ideology of their heritage and ideology of the past and ideology of the future. So it's create certain kind of sense of same ideology of heritage.
The final thoughts here. I mention why there is a heritage fever in China. I go through it a bit quickly the historical perspective, the political perspective, and social perspective. I'm arguing that there is an already long-term experience of how we deal with past, the desire of the past. And we already got experience of collecting, categorizing, [INAUDIBLE].
We have a political reason. We are embracing the global region. We also trying to shape the region, the same time, doing our political agenda in the regional area. We also, from Chinese citizens, we have kind of social perspective reason, that there is a kind of anxiety through from urbanization and rapid transformation. That creates certain kind of desire for looking for the past or looking for other places.
The heritage discourse, I mentioned, that also creates certain kind of effects. The effects could be a new tool for governance, for economic development. It could be a tool of cultural branding and theming. It could create this kind of spatial separation, a spatial effect, and also change the value behind. It could be making something superstition and becoming high, aesthetic economic value as a process authentication.
The last of my finding is that I looking at a response. There are different group of people. They may accept, define, and speak for heritage. There might be different forms of negotiation, for hunting for both pride and price. But in the end, I look at heritage as a way of cultural governmentality, just like the [SPEAKING CHINESE], which can be imbued in humans beings mind or body, that heritage also being part of our human daily life, that it's not any more a top-down ideology but rather becoming people, citizens' daily life.
That's why we can explain the different form of resistance or negotiation not really directly dealing with heritage, rather personal interests. I hope this is part of a journey I am going through. But I thank you for your visit I hope we can continue our journey through our discussion. Thank you.
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Yujie Zhu, Postdoctoral Fellow at Center on China in the World at Australian National University, discusses China’s growing interest in the promotion of cultural heritage traditions and landmarks and presents the local responses to this trend. Recorded April 4, 2016 as part of the East Asia Program’s Cornell Contemporary China Initiative Lecture Series.