Multi-vocal narratives of World Heritage in China: on the case of West Lake cultural landscape


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Han, Yanwei (2019). Multi-vocal narratives of World Heritage in China: on the case of West Lake cultural landscape. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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As with all heritage, World Heritage Sites vary tremendously in the ways they engage with interpretation for the wider public encompassing local communities, domestic and international visitors. Invariably, narratives used in site interpretation vary considerably, ranging from those that are officially constructed and ‘authorised’, to those which are more organic, unofficial and ‘disruptive’. This thesis focuses on the multi-vocality of interpretation relating to West Lake, a World Heritage Site near Hangzhou in China. It takes a narrative approach in examining the rich representations created and communicated by a wide diversity of stakeholders engaged with this cultural landscape.

The study interrogates the plurality of narratives of West Lake, how they have emerged, how they compete and, the ways in which they surface amongst different audiences. In part this reflects the complexity of a large cultural landscape, but it also relates to the ‘life’ and symbolic value of West Lake before it was inscribed on the World Heritage List. While there are official narratives of World Heritage, these reflect more national rather than trans-national perspectives or the idea of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’. But there are also local narratives, that speak to the locality of West Lake and to ways in which the surrounding communities have adapted and continue to adapt, to its role in wider social and economic life.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH)
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
L Education > L Education (General)


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