Grassroots Values and Local Cultural Heritage in China

Grassroots Values and Local Cultural Heritage in China


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The recent heritage boom in China is transforming local social, economic, and cultural life and reshaping domestic and global notions of China's national identity. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork conducted largely by young anthropologists in China, Grassroots Values and Local Cultural Heritage in China departs from the dominant top-down UNESCO-influenced narrative of cultural heritage preservation and approaches the local not as a fixed definition of place but as a shifting site of negotiation between state, entrepreneurial, transcultural, and local community interests. The volume takes readers along an unusual trajectory between a disadvantaged neighborhood in central Beijing, metropolitan centers in Anhui and Sichuan, Quanzhou in the southeast, and Yunnan in the southwest before finally ending at the great Samye Monastery in Tibet. Across these sites, the contributors converge in apprehending the grassroots as an arena of everyday life and belonging underpinning ordinary social interactions and cultural practices as diverse as funeral rituals, Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimages, and encounters between young contemporary artists and the Bloomsbury Group. In examining the diversity of local cultural practices and knowledge that underpin ideas about cultural value, this volume argues that grassroots cultural beliefs are essential to the liveability and sustainability of life and living heritage.