Promoting Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Through Research: An Analysis Of The Impact Of Academic Discourse On Local Protection and Tourism Practices In China

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: 423
Oral Presentation
Heike HOLBIG , Department of Social Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Christina MAAGS , Department of Social Sciences, Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
This study traces the impact of the Chinese academic discourse on intangible cultural heritage on government and tourism practices in the PRC at the subnational level. Since the concept of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) entered the Chinese academic discourse in 2003, the academic elite has actively promoted the development and protection of intangible cultural heritage nationally through the publication and circulation of research. While their influence on the drafting process of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage Law” has been acknowledged, hitherto little research has been conducted on their impact on local governmental policies, protection strategies and tourist promotion activities. This paper therefore aims at filling this research gap by conducting a comparative historical text analysis of Chinese academic journals from 2003 to 2013 in order to assess how academic discourse affects local government strategies for the branding of intangible cultural heritage. Comparing various selected cases, the paper will examine how scholars support local governments by reinventing and framing local traditions according to ICH discourse, promoting them for ICH nomination and attributing tourist values. Furthermore, it will explore how successful local government practices and management models of ICH protection are disseminated within epistemic communities of scholars, ICH experts and local administrators. The findings not only shed light on the impact of Chinese academic discourse on specific local practices of ICH protection but also point to common protection strategies ready for adoption in other localities.