XJTLU contributes to research on Chinese perceptions of Scotland

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An interdisciplinary team from Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, collaborating on a research project on visitor behaviours at an exhibition of Scottish cultural heritage, helped present the final project report at stakeholder events at Edinburgh Castle and the Tate Modern, UK.

(above, left to right: Dr Andrew Manley, the University of Bath (UK Co-Investigator); Rebecca Bailey, Head of Education and Outreach at Historic Environment Scotland (Principal Investigator); Dr Yiwen Wang, Dr Paul Craig, and Dr Joon Sik Kim, XJTLU.)

The UK-China collaborative research project, entitled ‘Producing/Consuming “Romantic Scotland’”, was commissioned by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Historic Environment Scotland where a range of research methodologies were used to investigate the reaction of Chinese museum visitors to the Romantic Scotland exhibition at Nanjing Museum last year.

The project also investigated how representations of Scotland in the exhibition influenced perceptions about the nation and its cultural heritage.

(above: screenshot of a short film screened at the events, in which a selection of the 6,000 video diaries recorded in Nanjing were collated to show Chinese visitors impressions of Scotland as inspired by the Romantic Scotland exhibition.)

The final report, which can be downloaded from the Historic Environment Scotland website, makes a number of recommendations for stakeholders in the tourism, exhibition and museum sectors in the UK, China, and beyond.

Dr Yiwen Wang from the Department of Urban Planning and Design at XJTLU and international co-investigator for the project presented the team’s findings on Chinese visitor behaviours.

The presentation featured graphics of visitor movement and behaviour in relation to the spatial layout of the exhibition, which were generated by a mobile tracking and data visualisation app developed by XJTLU.

Dr Paul Craig from the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering who led the development of the app, and Dr Joon Sik Kim, director of the Research Institute for Future Cities that coordinated the XJTLU research team, attended both the events and fielded many enquiries on the functionality and capacity of the app.

“Both events were great opportunities to showcase the innovative technologies developed for the project, and to meet some potential users and research collaborators,” said Dr Craig.

“We had a lot of interest from museum staff who recognised that this technology can make the process of data collection and data analysis more efficient and effective.

“We are now looking into different opportunities to further develop the software, and to consider how we can make the software available to a wider range of users,” he said.

“This project is truly interdisciplinary,” said Dr Kim (pictured above, centre), “from the research design to the delivery. Collaborative efforts between humanities and computer science have created the synergy needed to make the research outcomes more valuable.”

“Moreover, we also found that there is a great potential for commercialisation of the mobile tracking and data visualisation app we developed,” he added.

For stakeholders from the tourism sector who attended the events, much discussion revolved around how the findings on Chinese behaviours and perceptions can be harnessed in their future campaigns.

Dr Yiwen Wang said:

“It has been quite an experience being involved in this project. We found it immensely rewarding working with museums, heritage authorities, and tourism sectors in China and the UK, across cultures, languages, disciplines and continents.

“From the project, we have witnessed how XJTLU has played a crucial role in representing China to and communicating with the Western world, as well as bridging the gap between academia and industry,” she said.

Story and images provided by The Research Institute on Future Cities;

Edited by Danny Abbasi

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