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Authenticity and heritage conservation: seeking common complexities beyond the ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ dichotomy

Gao, Qian; Jones, Siân

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Authors

Siân Jones



Abstract

This article challenges the claimed gulf between ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ concepts and approaches to heritage conservation through an analysis of the common complexities surrounding authenticity. The past few decades have witnessed an important critique of ‘Eurocentric’ notions of heritage conservation, drawing on ‘non-Western’, particularly Asian, contexts. Authenticity has been a core principle and defining element in this development. Endorsed by a series of charters and documents, a relativistic approach emphasising the cultural specificity of authenticity has been introduced alongside the European-originated materialist approach in international policy and conservation philosophy. However, the promotion of Asian difference has also contributed to an increasingly entrenched and unproductive dichotomy between ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ approaches to heritage. This article reveals common complexities surrounding authenticity in two countries crosscutting this dualism – China and Scotland. Drawing on a number of ethnographic projects, our analysis identifies themes that characterise the experience of authenticity across different cultural contexts. It contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the evolving relationships between heritage conservation and contemporary societies with important implications for global heritage discourses and collaborative ventures crosscutting ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ contexts.

Citation

Gao, Q., & Jones, S. (2021). Authenticity and heritage conservation: seeking common complexities beyond the ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ dichotomy. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 27(1), 90-106. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2020.1793377

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 4, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 21, 2020
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Oct 13, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 21, 2022
Journal International Journal of Heritage Studies
Print ISSN 1352-7258
Electronic ISSN 1470-3610
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 1
Pages 90-106
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2020.1793377

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