Yujie Zhu and Christina Maags

Jul 20, 2021

Heritage Politics in China

The Power of the Past

Routledge 2020

Heritage Politics in China: The Power of the Past (Routledge, 2020) studies the impact of heritage policies and discourses on the Chinese state and Chinese society. It sheds light on the way Chinese heritage policies have transformed the narratives and cultural practices of the past to serve the interests of the present.

As well as reinforcing a collective social identity, heritage in China has served as an instrument of governance and regulation at home and a tool to generate soft power abroad. Drawing on a critical analysis of heritage policies and laws, empirical case studies, and interviews with policymakers, practitioners, and local communities, the authors offer a comprehensive perspective on the role that cultural heritage plays in Chinese politics and policy. They argue that heritage-making appropriates international, national, and local values, thereby transforming it into a public good suitable for commercial exploitation. By framing heritage as a site of cooperation, contestation, and negotiation, this book contributes to our understanding of the complex nature of heritage in the rapidly shifting landscape of contemporary China.

Nick Pozek is Assistant Director at the Parker School of Foreign & Comparative Law at Columbia University

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