Call for Papers: Authenticating China. Governance and Valuation through Intangible Cultural Heritage

New Call for Papers for a Special Feature of China Perspectives

Authenticating China: Governance and Valuation through Intangible Cultural Heritage

Guest-editors: Guillaume Dutournier (EFEO, Beijing) and Florence Padovani (CFC, Beijing)

Since the Chinese authorities adopted the UNESCO Convention on “Intangible Cultural Heritage” (ICH) in 2004, the People’s Republic of China has seen the rise of a passion for heritage. In addition to the conservation measures implemented since 1950 in historical sites, an ever-increasing number of projects and initiatives have been relying on the concept of “feiyi” (acronym for ICH in Chinese) in an attempt to obtain recognition for practices perceived as traditional and to safeguard their lines of transmission (Bodolec 2012, 2014; Gao 2014; Maags 2018). Now added to the government’s agenda through a plurality of agencies, this feiyi valuation is essentially formulated in terms of “culture” and “space of the people” (minjian), but is not homogeneous throughout the country, and presents itself as a competitive phenomenon, bringing together different types of actors over varied accreditation procedures (Smith 2006; Madsen 2014; Shepherd & Yu 2013). Beyond its impact at the national level, this new discourse reinforces the image of the country by imposing post-Maoist China on the world heritage scene. Nowadays, with 40 ICH items listed by UNESCO, the Chinese State confirms its involvement in the “typological extension” of the concept of heritage, as well as its ability to expand thecommon repertoire (Choay 2007; Bodolec 2014; Maags 2019; Bortolotto & Demgenski 2020).

The phenomenon of feiyi has been the subject of abundant research in social sciences for the past ten years. Diverse in objects and perspectives, these studies can be divided into two groups according to the positioning they adopt with respect to the protagonists. In the type of research that could be labelled as “embedded,” often conducted by Chinese researchers, the academic expertise meets in the field with local interests (for dances and music, traditional craftsmanship and artistic know-how, ritual celebrations etc.) that it seeks to guide by sometimes getting involved in the development of local projects (Gao 2006, 2014; Cui 2006; Shen 2010; Li 2014). In the second approach, often but not exclusively conducted by foreign scholars, researchers question the role of Chinese ICH in strengthening the legitimacy of power, or, on the contrary, in empowering the groups involved (Graezer 2003; Oakes 2013; Kuah & Liu 2017). Other works echo the increasingly frequent criticism in China against the commodification of culture (Bendix 2009; Taylor 2014; Pal 2009; Yan 2017). On both sides, a more or less explicit issue at stake is the normative project driven by UNESCO and its potential acclimatisation in China. Although some take the Chinese case to validate the UNESCO’s universalist orientation, others relativize the UNESCO’s influence and put forward a specifically Chinese vision of the relationship to the past, precisely because of the paramount place the “intangible” allegedly occupies in it (Yan 2015, 2016; You 2015; Li 2020; Su 2020).

By proposing an internal but non-exceptionalist approach on the manufacturing of ICH in China, this special issue can offer an alternative path. Rather than opposing China to the rest of the world, or the government to “civil society,” it intends to follow the actors and administrators of feiyi on the long run – and in their plural affiliations –, in order to highlight the system of hybrid and shifting values ​expressed by their actions. In China, as elsewhere, the reclassification of practices and artefacts in terms of “heritage” appears to be a critical moment in value ascription, which mobilises evaluative frameworks and agencies with stabilization purposes. These frameworks and agencies extend the institutions and modes of reflexivity already present in society, while providing new support to justify reassessments of artefacts, sites or practices. The kind of approach recently developed in the “sociology of valuation” sheds valuable light on these processes of heritage building and on the way in which they are articulated in specific devices or faced with criticism (Heinich 2009, 2017; Boltanski & Esquerre 2017).

By making the values in Chinese ICH explicit, this approach ​​can do justice to an aspect largely underestimated so far: the basis of the currentprocess, the very notion of feiyi, is an imported concept meant to extend international normativity, but with a relatively vague definition which gives room for many elaborations and appropriations in the field. Chinese “feiyi” operates through the involvement of actors constantly defining its scope and the issues at stake according to their own scale of action and based on their type of engagement (Ashworth 2011; Su 2019). Therefore, in this constantly reinterpreted framework, the issue of authenticity, which has been excluded from the UNESCO definition of ICH (last defined in Yamato in 2004) and solely applies to tangible cultural heritage in China so far, often appears in feiyi discourse to justify the search of a balance between continuity and creativity (Zhu 2017; Su 2019; Maags 2020). This interpretative vitality must be examined in itself, as a part of the inherent dynamics of Chinese ICH, but also of its fundamental hybridity – particularly obvious in long sequences. By offering extended studies of the various actors of feiyi, the investigations in this special issue will illustrate their back and forth at different levels: between ICH management bodies (sometimes at the intersection of different types of heritage) and their plural motives for acting; between their desire to authenticate practices and their efforts to identify “transmitters;” between the sources of heritage value, either empirical or quantifiable, and the various formulations of this value through criteria and lists. By this diachronic approach to feiyi-based heritagization processes, focusing on justifications and narratives, we intend to promote a sharper vision of the logics of action and social dynamics at work in the current effervescence – as well as a renewed approach to its political potential.

Please send abstracts of 200-300 words by July 30th, 2020 to the guest editors at guillaume.dutournier@efeo.net and florence.padovani@beijing-cfc.org.

Authors of selected abstracts will be invited to submit a full paper by the 30th September of 2020 to the guest editors of the special issue.

More information on the format of articles can be found here.

The special issue is scheduled to be published in 2021.

References

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Ashworth, Gregory (2011), « Preservation, Conservation and Heritage: Approaches to the Past in the Present through the Built Environment », Asian Anthropology, 10:1, 1-18.

Blumenfield, Tami (ed.) (2013), Cultural Heritage Politics in China, New York, Springer.

Bodolec, Caroline (2012), « The Chinese Paper-Cut: From Local Inventories to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity », in Regina Bentix & Aditya Eggert, Heritage Regimes and the State, Göttingen, Göttingen University Press, pp. 249-264.

Bodolec, Caroline (2014), « Les enjeux du patrimoine culturel immatériel pour la Chine », Tsanta 19, pp. 19-30.

Boltanski, Luc & Arnaud Esquerre (2017), Enrichissement. Une critique de la marchandise, Paris, Gallimard.

Bortolotto, Chiara (ed.) (2011), Le Patrimoine culturel immatériel. Enjeux d’une nouvelle catégorie, Paris, Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme.

Bortolotto, Chiara, Demgenski Philipp, Karampampas Panas & Toji Simone, (2020), « Proving participation: vocational bureaucrats and bureaucratic creativity in the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage », Social Anthropology, 28 (1), pp. 66-82.

Choay, Françoise 2007 (1992), L’Allégorie du patrimoine, Paris, Seuil.

Du Cros, Hilary & Yok-shiu Lee (eds.) (2007), Cultural Heritage Management in China. Preserving the Cities of the Pearl River Delta, New York, Routledge.

Cui, Jinze, (2018), « Heritage Visions of Mayor GengYanbo, Re-creating the City of Datong », in Christina Maags & Mariana Svensson (eds.), Chinese Heritage in the Making – Experiences, Negociations and Contestations, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, pp. 223-244.

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Gao, Bingzhong (2006), « Yi zuo bowuguan-miaoyu jianzhu de minzuzhi. Lun chengwei zhengzhi yishu de shuangmingzhi 一座博物馆-庙宇建筑的民族志——论成为政治艺术的双名制» (An Ethnography of a Museum-Temple: On the Political Art of Becoming Double-Named), Shehuixue yanjiu, 1, pp. 154-168.

Gao, Bingzhong (2014). « How Does Superstition Become Intangible Cultural Heritage in Postsocialist China? », Positions Asia Critique, 22 (3), pp. 551-572.

Graezer, Florence (2018), « Le Festival de Miaofengshan : culture populaire et politique culturelle », Etudes chinoises 22, 2003, pp. 283-295.

Heinich, Nathalie (2009), La Fabrique du patrimoine. De la cathédrale à la petite cuillère, Paris, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, coll. « Ethnologie de la France ».

Heinich, Nathalie (2017), Des valeurs. Une approche sociologique, Paris, Gallimard, coll. « Bibliothèque des sciences humaines ».

Kuah, Khun Eng, and Zhaohui Liu (2017), Intangible Cultural Heritage in Contemporary China: The Participation of Local Communities, London, Routledge.

Lai, Guolong, Martha Demas, Neville Agnew (2004), « Valuing the Past in China. The Seminal Influence of Liang Sicheng on Heritage Conservation », Orientations 35 (2), pp. 82–89.

Lai, Guolong (2016), « The emergence of ‘cultural heritage’ in modern China. A historical and legal perspective », in Akira Matsuda, Luisa Elena Mengoni (eds.), Reconsidering Cultural Heritage in East Asia, London, Ubiquity Press (OAPEN Library), pp. 47–85.

Li, Ji, Krishnamurthy Sukanya, Pereira Roders Ana, Van Wesemael Pieter (2020), « Community participation in cultural heritage management: A systematic literature review comparing Chinese and international practices », Cities, 96, pp. 1-9

Li, Li, (2014), « Intangible Cultural Heritage and New Communities of Knowledge Production: An Analysis Based on Village Studies », Positions: Asia critique, 22, (3), pp. 721-740

Madsen, Richard, (2014), « From Socialist Ideology to Cultural Heritage: the Changing Basis of Legitimacy in the People Legal Perspective », Anthropology & Medicine, 21, (1), pp.58–70

Maags Christina, (2018), « Creating a Race to the Top. Hierarchies and Competition Within the Chinese ICH Transmitters system », in Maags Christina & Svensson Mariana, Chinese Heritage in the Making – Experiences, Negociations and Contestaions, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, pp. 121-144.

Maags, Christina (2019), « Struggles of recognition: adverse effects of China’s living human treasures program », Journal of Heritage Studies, 25 (8), pp. 780-795.

Pal, Nyiri (2009), « Between Encouragement and Control – Tourism Modernity and Discipline in China », in Winter Tim, Teo Peggy & Chang T.C, Asia on Tour: Exploring the Rise of Asian Tourism, London, Routledge, pp. 153-169.

Oakes, Timothy (2013), « Heritage as Improvement – Cultural Display and Contested Governance in Rural China », Modern China, 39 (4), pp. 380-407.

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Shepherd, Robert J. & Lawrence Yu (2013), Heritage management, tourism, and governance in China. Managing the past to serve the present, New York, Springer.

Smith, Laurajane, (2006), The Uses of Heritage, London, Routledge.

Su, Junjie, (2019), « Understanding the changing Intangible Cultural Heritage in tourism commodification: the music players’ perspective from Lijiang, China », Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 17 (3), pp. 247-268.

Su, Junjie, (2020), « Managing intangible cultural heritage in the context of tourism: Chinese officials’ perspectives », Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 18 (2) ; pp. 164-186

Taylor, Timothy D. (2014), « New Capitalism, UNESCO and the Re-enchantment of Culture », in Madeleine Herren (ed.), Networking in the International System – Global Histories of International Organizations, Dedrecht, Springer, pp. 163-173.

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Waterton, Emma (2014), « A More-Than-Representational Understanding of Heritage? The ‘Past’ and the Politics of Affect », Geography Compass 8/11 (2014), pp. 823–833.

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Yan, Haiming (2016), « World Heritage and National Hegemony: The Discursive Formation of Chinese Political Authority », in W. Logan (ed.), A Companion to Heritage Studies, Oxford, Wiley Blackwell, pp. 229-242.

Yan, Hongliang (2017), Heritage Tourism in China. Modernity, Identity and Sustainability, Bristol, Channel View Publications.

You, Ziying (2015), « Shifting Actors and Power Relations: Contentious Local Responses to the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Contemporary China », Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 52 (2–3), pp. 253-268.

Zhang, Yanling, Fang Xie, Zhenghuan Li, Xiaohuai Wu (2017), On the Chinese National Cultural Heritages: Tourism Development and Education, Berlin, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Berlin.

Zhu, Yujie, (2016), « Authenticity and Heritage Conservation in China: Translation, Interpretation and Practices », in K. Weiler & N. Gutschow (eds.), Authenticity in Architectural Heritage Conservation, Transcultural Research, Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe, Springer, 2017, pp. 187-200.

Research fellowship for a PhD in demography (CURAPP – INED, with Hong Kong HKUST)

Analysing the Generations and Gender Programme survey data and participating in the preparation of a new series of family behaviour surveys in Europe and Asia

 One scholarship is open for a PhD candidate interested in the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) and especially its extension to Asian cities.

The GGP is a collaborative network of European research institutes, which collects survey data (Generations and Gender Surveys [GGS]) on family dynamics and relationships (https://www.ggp-i.org). A large community of scholars are involved in the GGP or use GGS data for their research. A new GGS programme is opening and will be devoted to conducting surveys in several major Asian cities.

The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and its Centre in Hong Kong, the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC), seek to support a PhD candidate working on the project. She or he will be registered at the doctoral school of the university of Picardie Jules Verne, and the contract is based at CURAPP (Centre Universitaire de Recherches Administratives et Politiques de Picardie), a CNRS and university centre, as well at the French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), in Paris, with a co-supervision at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

Research activities, to be discussed with the applicants, include:

  1. Analysis of existing European GGP data
  2. Comparisons between Europe and Asia
  3. Participation in implementing the Asian GGP. For example, through a qualitative approach on the applicability of GGS for deployment in urban contexts in Asia. This can be conducted through expert interviews, focus groups etc.
  4. Participation in implementing a French 2020 GGS pilot survey.

The first two items will make up the bulk of the doctoral work; research will deal with analysis on existing data, on one or two research topics, such as the gender relations and fertility nexus in different policy contexts, or the links between couples’ marital status, union instability, and fertility (men and women from different social groups), or changing intergenerational relationships within the family (coping with rapid ageing). The third activity consists of assisting and implementing the GGP Asia project. Travel to the fieldwork sites – possibly Bangkok, and a city in Mainland China may be organized, as well as research stays in Hong Kong. The fourth point is an option if we conduct a new GGP online survey in France during the PhD contract.

The candidate must hold a Masters degree in Demography, Statistics, Sociology, or a related discipline. There is no restriction on the nationality of applicants. She or he must be able to work and write in English and in French. Competency in an Asian language (Chinese or Thai) will be greatly appreciated.

Coordinators:

  • In Hong Kong: Prof. Stuart Gietel-Bastel, Associate Dean (Research), School of Humanities and Social Science; Professor, Divisions of Social Science and Public Policy, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
  • In Amiens: Nathalie Le Bouteillec, Professor of Demography, University of Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV) and CURAPP.
  • In Paris: Laurent Toulemon, senior researcher, French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED).

Three-year PhD contract, starting May 2020.

Please send an application with a CV, a one- or two-page covering letter, your Masters thesis, and at least one reference to toulemon@ined.fr, sgb@ust.hk, and nathalie.lebouteillec@u-picardie.fr. Please contact us if you have any questions.

The application file must imperatively be downloaded on the CNRS platform www.emploi.cnrs.fr. We will contact you when the needed information is available.

Deadline: 31 March 2020. Skype interviews will be organized for 8 April 2020.