Living in the “Past”: The Effects of a Growing Preservation Discourse in Contemporary Urban China

  • Philipp Demgenski


This chapter problematizes a growing preservation discourse in China by discussing its impacts upon urban renewal and the residents living in an old, dilapidated inner city neighbourhood in Qingdao. While a group of history and heritage enthusiasts call for “authentic” preservation of the area’s architecture, the city government wants to turn it into a place for cultural consumption and tourism. The individual memories of residents living in the inner city, however, neither fit the official narratives nor those of the authenticity-seeking heritage enthusiasts. This chapter critically engages the existing preservation discourse and argues that the exclusive focus on preserving architectural remains actually stands in the way of a more inclusive and appropriate way of dealing with inner city problems.



I am deeply indebted to Prof. Dolores Koenig of the American University in Washington DC for the time and effort spent editing and commenting on earlier versions of this article.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philipp Demgenski
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut interdisciplinaire d’anthropologie du contemporain (IIAC), École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)ParisFrance

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