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China’s Contested Past & The World Heritage Centre: Developing Pasts & Promises

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This paper investigates the cultural side of China’s re-integration to the global economy, it’s admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and it’s ongoing re- structuring of its economy, via its integration into the World Heritage Centre (WHC) and the ongoing re-structuring of the ideological foundations of China’s authorized heritage. Taking for granted the interwoven relationships between visions of development and the development of the past, my inquiry focuses on the WHC - with its globalizing development of an authorized “global heritage order” - and it’s relationship to China’s “opening up” to capitalist-lead development models. The paper illustrates, by using the WHC site of Pingyao as a case example, how China’s emerging national authorized approach to the past – articulated through the international WHC – displaces political alternatives found in China’s cultural archive: supplanting the communist political foundations.
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