Voices from Within: Perspectives of Ordinary Tujia Individuals in Cultural Heritage Space (79634)

Session Information: Cultural Studies
Session Chair: Adinarayanane Ramamurthy

Monday, 27 May 2024 13:20
Session: Session 3
Room: Room A (Live-Stream)
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

This paper examines how ordinary Tujia individuals navigate their cultural authenticity and ethnic identity in the evolving cultural heritage space, seeking to address gaps in heritage studies and Tujia-related research that overlooks the perspective of ordinary people. Tujia, a highly Sinicised ethnic group in China, has experienced a revival of their culture under government involvement and commercialisation, thus serving a distinct case to unpack the complexities of the heritagisation process in China.
Cultural heritage space is conceptualised as a hybrid space encompassing areas intentionally planned by the government for the conservation and (re)construction of heritage and unplanned areas lacking such official initiatives, and as heritagisation progresses, residents become more or less aware of their culture.
Methodologically, fieldwork and 14 interviews were conducted over a week in July 2021 in Yongshun County, a less-researched region with consistent Tujia lineage and diverse experiences of heritagisation. Sampling was based on generational divisions and demographic factors.
Findings reveal that cultural heritage space allows individuals to perceive their ethnicity beyond tangible elements, with identity and belonging beyond physical attributes. Despite criticisms of Tujia culture’s inauthenticity, most individuals exhibit indifference, regarding heritagisation as an income source. Their self-identity is predominantly shaped by authorised heritage discourse and tourism interests. Some individuals, however, have a critical and non-linear understanding of cultural authenticity and identity, drawing from personal experiences and self-awareness.
By illuminating the bottom-to-top discourse, this study underscores the importance of recognising and amplifying the voices of ordinary people in heritage research, offering valuable insights for future investigations.

Jiahui Xing, University of Sydney, Australia

About the Presenter(s)
Ms Jiahui XING is a University Doctoral Student at University of Sydney in Australia

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00