Practicing residents in historic neighborhood: a critique on urban conservation from an everyday perspective

Authors: Yu Qiao*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural Geography, China
Keywords: historic district, urban conservation, neighborhood, everyday life, China
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


To be competitive among the most developed Chinese cities, Beijing is branded by its history and culture, with urban heritages designated and preserved. This paper is a case study focusing on a group of residents’ participation practices in a historic conservation planning project transforming their neighborhood to be a living culture museum exhibiting a harmonious scene where residents dwell well with old buildings. Though demonstrated to be a key part integrated into the heritage package, local residents are actually marginalized by a romanticized gaze formed in a modern urban context, while simultaneously accept and apply it with themselves being situated in the same way. This paper reflects on marginalization as a result of culture domination which has been achieved both in official discourse and in public perception in a Chinese urbanization context. Local residents, composing a descending socialist citizen class, practice their resistance and acceptance in mundane everyday life. Following a fieldwork done in ethnographic methods, the paper takes a perspective from the below to criticize the specific historic conservation project. It is advised that historic district as a culture integration should be critically reevaluated with a careful examination on not only heritage value attached to physical spaces, but also people’s amorphous but continuous practices being formed by, and simultaneously forming the spaces.

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