Yujie ZhuJan 29, 2021
Heritage and Romantic Consumption in China
Amsterdam University Press 2018
The drums beat, an old man in a grand robe mutters incantation and three brides on horseback led by their grooms on foot proceed to the Naxi Wedding Courtyard, accompanied, watched and photographed the whole way by tourists, who have bought tickets for the privilege. The traditional wedding ceremonies are performed for the ethnic tourism industry in Lijiang, a World Heritage town in southwest China.
Heritage and Romantic Consumption in China (Amsterdam UP, 2018) examines how heritage interacts with social-cultural changes and how individuals perform and negotiate their identities through daily practices that include tourism, on the one hand, and the performance of ethnicity on the other. The wedding performances in Lijiang not only serve as a heritage 'product' but show how the heritage and tourism industry helps to shape people's values, dreams and expectations. This book also explores the rise of 'romantic consumerism' in contemporary China. Chinese dissatisfaction with the urban mundane leads to romanticized interests in practices and people deemed to be natural, ethnic, spiritual and aesthetic, and a search for tradition and authenticity. But what, exactly, are tradition and authenticity, and what happens to them when they are turned into performance?
Yujie Zhu is a Lecturer at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University. He is the co-editor of Politics of Scale and Sustainable Tourism Management at World Heritage Sites.
Victoria Oana Lupașcu is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at University of Montréal. Her areas of interest include medical humanities, visual art, 20th and 21st Chinese, Brazilian and Romanian literature and Global South studies.