Disneyfication or Self-Referentiality: Recent Conservation Efforts and Modern Planning History in Datong

  • Shulan Fu
  • Jean Hillier


In order to renovate historical landmarks and promote tourism in Datong, a series of projects has been undertaken since 2008. The redevelopment strategy has bulldozed much of the old city and replaced it with a new faux-historic, ‘ancient’ city in the construction of an idealised heritage rather than a literal re-creation of historic Datong. We outline the modern planning history of Datong. A case study analysis of the (re)construction of the city walls and the improvement of the Huayansi temple complex critically engages discussion between the self-referentiality of Chinese faux-heritage and the hyperreality of Disneyfication. We conclude by asking whether the new (re)development may actually come to be regarded as an authentic representation of the current era.



Shulan Fu’s contribution to this chapter was funded through the cooperative study ‘Comprehensive Study on the Introduction Process of Neighborhood Unit Theory in Japan (15H04098B)’, the ‘Study on the Modern Planning History of Local Cities in China: Focusing on the Urban Renewal Constructions and Plans from 1908 to 1926 (NSFC 51408533)’ and the ‘Introduction and Exchange History of Modern Urban Planning Technology between China and Japan (ZJU Central University Programme 2-2050205-16-061)’. She thanks Prof. Nakajima Naoto of the University of Tokyo, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Zhejiang University for their funding.

Jean Hillier’s contribution to the revision of this chapter was written while she was based at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. She thanks Zhejiang University for affording her this opportunity.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shulan Fu
    • 1
  • Jean Hillier
    • 2
  1. 1.Regional and Urban Planning DepartmentZhejiang UniversityHangzhouP. R. China
  2. 2.School of Global Urban and Social StudiesRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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