IIAS Lunch Lecture

Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding as a 'Cultural Recovery' Strategy in China

A lunch lecture by Qiaoyun Zhang (IIAS; University of Oxford, UK). Lunch is provided; registration is required.

In this presentation, Qiaoyun Zhang discusses if and how intangible cultural heritage (ICH) safeguarding is an effective means to recover and protect local cultures after major catastrophes in China, a culturally conservative nation and forceful newcomer in the recent global ICH safeguarding campaign.

The Qiang are one of the 55 officially recognized Chinese ethnic minorities. They took a hard hit in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake as 98.2 percent of the Qiang population lived in the affected areas. The Chinese government led swift, massive, and comprehensive disaster relief and recovery efforts after the disaster. Particularly, it put heavy emphasis on recovering the Qiang culture, where the nomination, rescue, and promotion of the Qiang ICH composed major part of the state planning. Taking the nomination of the Qiang New Year as a national and later UNESCO ICH representative as an example, the presentation discusses how the state- and scholar-driven heritagization process transforms the status, significance, and practice of the ethnic cultural tradition. It investigates how the UNESCO-led ICH preservation discourse was creatively yet complexly manipulated in the Chinese state-led post-disaster recovery project, which has brought about transformed perceptions and practice towards the related cultural practices in local communities and the general public alike.

Qiaoyun Zhang is currently a research fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on cultural recovery and preservation after disasters, and engages with topics of state-ethnic relation in China, intangible cultural heritage preservation, disaster tourism, and sustainable development. She received her PhD in Anthropology from Tulane University (USA) in 2016.


Registration (required)

Please register via the webform below if you would like to attend.
Register by 13 February to secure a lunch box provided by IIAS.

About IIAS Lunch Lectures

Every month, one of the IIAS affiliated fellows will give an informal presentation about his/her work-in-progress for colleagues and others interested. Lunch lectures are sometimes also organised for visiting scholars.

IIAS organises these lectures to provide the research community with an opportunity to freely discuss ongoing research and exchange thoughts and ideas. Anyone with an interest in the subject matter at hand is welcome to attend and join the discussion.