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Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 670; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030670

Reconstructing Tradition: Heritage Authentication and Tourism-Related Commodification of the Ancient City of Pingyao

1
School of Land and Tourism, Luoyang Normal University, 6#Jiqing RD, Yibin District, Luoyang 471934, Henan Province, China
2
Central Plains Economic Zones Smart Tourism Cooperative Innovation Center in Henan Province, Luoyang Normal University, 6#Jiqing RD, Yibin District, Luoyang 471934, Henan Province, China
Received: 13 January 2018 / Revised: 24 February 2018 / Accepted: 27 February 2018 / Published: 1 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cultural Heritage Conservation and Sustainability)
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Abstract

This paper examines how the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (CCPWCNH) is implemented in China, with specific reference to tourism development at the local level in the Ancient City of Pingyao (ACP). Based on a qualitative methodology and constructivist paradigm, the research employs observation and semi-structured interviews to explore how the interaction between heritage authorization and tourism-related commodification shapes the transformation of the local community. Giddens’ theories, amongst others, on modernity, time–space distanciation, disembedding, and reflexivity, are employed to analyze this case study. The paper argues that the reconstruction of “traditional-style culture” has contributed to the transformative processes in the ACP. Traditional-style culture differs from “traditional culture” in that the former refers to cultural forms that are purposely (re)constructed to serve contemporary political or economic needs, while the latter refers to cultural forms that are rooted in the local contexts of premodern societies. One of the impacts of traditional-style culture, which is the product of the interaction between heritage authorization and tourism development, is the emergence of a commercialized environment. This environment confounds the notion of authenticity that is claimed in authorized concepts of heritage. There, construction of traditional-style culture demonstrates the relationship of powerful actors with hierarchical power, leading to an unequal positioning of external agents (such as heritage experts) and local residents. View Full-Text
Keywords: authentication; heritage authorization; commodification; reconstruction of tradition; tourism authentication; heritage authorization; commodification; reconstruction of tradition; tourism
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Su, X. Reconstructing Tradition: Heritage Authentication and Tourism-Related Commodification of the Ancient City of Pingyao. Sustainability 2018, 10, 670.

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