Similar to the original meaning of its counterpart in English, in traditional Chinese culture the term “heritage” 遗产 means properties inherited from ancestors. After the 1920s, modern archaeology and the study of historic buildings were introduced into China, and some Chinese scholars trained in the West began to study and preserve China’s past. In the 1950s, terms of “material and spiritual cultural remains” were used in archaeological and museological discourse, but without clear definitions and managerial approaches apart from collecting and placing these items in museums. Since 1985, when the National Congress of the People’s Republic of China ratified the 1972 Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the discourse and practices designed and promoted by UNESCO have been adopted in China. To date, prima facie China has been following the guideline of the UNESCO 1972 Convention on protecting tangible heritage, and the UNESCO 2003 Convention of Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. As of 2012, China ranks third on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in terms of the quantity of tangible heritage, with nine natural heritage sites, thirty cultural heritage properties, and four combined natural and cultural heritage properties enlisted. In addition, twenty-nine intangible cultural heritage properties from China have been included on UNESCO’s “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanities”; another seven properties are on UNESCO’s “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.” Meanwhile, heritage studies have become a very popular field in China since the 1980s, and hundreds of books, articles, and book chapters have been written by archaeologists, architects, artists, business managers, conservators, cultural anthropologists, geographers, geologists, government officials, historians, musicians, sociologists, and scholars of other related fields within and outside China.
Article. 9779 words.
Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions
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