Reclaiming identity and (re)materialising pasts: approaches to heritage conservation in China


This symposium invites academics and practitioners worldwide to contribute critiques and case studies on the current practice of cultural heritage conservation in China that address and/or challenge the following questions under the proposed three sub-themes: sanitised narratives of heritage, politics of heritage, and commodification of heritage.

The event will be of interest to scholars, practitioners and PhD students in urban planning, architecture, cultural studies, sociology and geography as well as those in the field of urban conservation and heritage planning.

Modern China reawakened its interest in heritage protection in the late 1970s as a counter to the widespread destruction and the catastrophic loss of its cultural assets during the Cultural Revolution. Following the introduction of the Law on Protection of Cultural Relics in 1982 and the country’s ratification of UNESCO Convention in 1985, the state government has certified cultural heritage through national legislation and nomination and, in the meanwhile, has increasingly devolved both power and responsibility for the heritage conservation and its finance to the local authorities. The scope of heritage protection has been expanded significantly over the past four decades – from archeological sites to conservation areas, from monumental to ordinary, from tangible to intangible, and from urban to rural heritage. Arguably, the economic reform since 1978 and the subsequent urbanisation have been a double-edged sword that, on the one hand, has helped to finance the preservation of historic monuments and sites of national importance; but, on the other hand, has threatened the existence of historical structures and settlements of local interests, conflicting with the state government’s pronouncement on safeguarding its cultural assets.


The symposium will begin with a number of presentations in the first two days. On the third day, there will be a half-day tour in Suzhou city centre, followed by a forum on the conservation and management issues of Suzhou historic city. In attendance will be representatives of international, national and local institutes from both public and private sector in Suzhou.


The full registration fee is RMB 1,000 (RMB 600 for students), including all symposium materials and meals. There is a supplement charge of RMB 600 for the city trip in Suzhou. Registration fee can be paid via bank transfer. Please note that administrative charges from the bank should be covered by participants and US dollar is preferable for international transfer.

NOTES: Registration is open until 30 March 2016. No refund will be made after registration is closed. All enquiries about registration should be made to [email protected]

Invited speakers

  • Dr Florence Graezer Bideau, Director of the Minor in Area and Cultural Studies, Swiss Federal Institute for Technology, Switzerland
  • Professor Bing Zhang, China Academy of Urban Planning and Design; Academic Committee of Historic Cities, Urban Planning Society of China
  • Professor Barry Godfrey, Professor of Social Justice and Associate Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Impact) for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Liverpool
  • William Lindsey, Honorary Research Fellow at University of Liverpool, Founder of International Friends of the Great Wall.
  • Dr Giulio Verdini, Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Research Institute of Urbanisation at the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
  • Professor Linda Walton, Professor Emerita of History at the Portland State University.

Scientific board

  • Professor Pierre-Alain Croset, Department of Architecture, XJTLU
  • Professor Barry Godfrey, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool
  • Professor David Goodman, Department of China Studies, XJTLU
  • Dr Giulio Verdini, Research Institute of Urbanisation, Department of Urban Planning and Design, XJTLU
  • Professor John Pendlebury, School of Architecture Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University

Organising committee

  • Dr Yiwen Wang, Department of Urban Planning and Design, XJTLU
  • Dr Carol Ludwig, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool
  • Dr Yiping Dong, Department of Architecture, XJTLU

Host institutes

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, University of Liverpool, Suzhou University of Science and Technology

Organising bodies

Department of Urban Planning and Design, Department of Architecture, Research Institute of Urbanisation of XJTLU, Suzhou Institute for the Conservation of National Historic Cities.