Organized Panel Session
Heritage – both tangible and intangible – has arguably become a daily practice for many, as unprecedented trends of inventorying, preserving, and promoting cultural heritage have swept across Asia in the past decade. As places and landscapes as well as local cultural practices are increasingly being identified as ‘heritage’, participation in creating and promulgating heritage has widened from experts and politicians to consumers, spectators, and tourists. While most prior studies focus on the preservation and representation of local traditions or on the impact of external forces on heritage, this panel asks: How do ordinary people go about cultural heritage when it becomes embedded in their everyday lives?
Our papers, on China and Japan, discuss how local people spend their days when critical parts of their lives such as residences and life rituals have been designated as heritage, or when the interactions between cultural producers and consumers have been relocated to new environments themed around heritage for the promotion of creative industries. In particular, we delve into the power of heritage – as organizing category, as socioeconomic strategy, and as bodily and sensual engagement – that shapes social relationships, collective memories, and cultural experiences on the ground. Using historical and ethnographic approaches, this panel lies at the intersection of anthropology, folklore studies, and critical heritage studies. We critically examine the everyday experiences involved in a new generation of ‘living’ heritage practices that are giving rise to emerging spaces of cultural production (and consumption) with new meanings and lasting values.