Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Prof. Chan Ching Kiu Stephen
Prof. YU Siu Wah
Ever since the commencement of the new millennium, intangible cultural heritage, the cultural concept and campaign promoted by the UNESCO has rapidly spread the world. In China, thousands of traditional cultures and everyday practices have been absorbed into the intangible heritage system over the past decade, which is reshaping people's perception and engagement with everyday life and traditions. Intangible cultural heritage as an 'imported' concept has been highly localised and resituated in contemporary China. I seek to examine how intangible heritage as a prevalent cultural phenomenon incorporates everyday practices into regional and national narratives in China in light of the marketization of traditional culture and the political and cultural agenda of 'the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation'. Furthermore, I attempt to historicise the concept of heritage in China's history of modernisation especially since around the establishment of the PRC in 1949. Through the historicised approach, I aim to demystify the imaginary of heritage and interrogate how cultural heritage turns from something to be reformed in the revolutionary era to something to be 'protected' and 'preserved' in the consumer society.
Under such scope, l examine in detail the changes of mwywge (木鱼歌),a former popular everyday practice in the Pearl River Delta area, as it successively becomes an intangible heritage ofthe provincial and national levels. Despite its prevalence, muyuge was peripheral, marginalised in the both the cultural and geographical senses. I contextualise muyuge in the economic restructuring of the Pearl River Delta area and analyse the process of an everyday practice being reconstructed as an intangible heritage. Based on fieldwork interviews, policy analysis and media analysis, I particularly examine the reconstruction of muyuge's performing practices, the reshaping of muyuge practitioners and its connection with the restructuring of an industrial town. I argue that intangible heritage is gradually replacing previous values and understanding of folk culture with ideas of capital, market and nationalistic identities, and that the autonomy of everyday life has been dissolved and re-incorporated into the dominant discourse.
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Wen, C. (2018). Heritagising the everyday: The case of Muyuge (Doctor's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/otd/20