World Heritage Craze in China: Universal Discourse, National Culture, and Local Memory. Haiming Yan. New York: Berghahn Books, 2018. 242 pp., 20 illustrations, bibliography, index. Hardback US $120.00, ISBN 978-1-78533-804-5; eBook US $35, eISBN 978-1-78533-805-2.

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2019-10-04
Authors
Fiskesjö, Magnus
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Abstract
This aptly titled book takes on the Chinese obsession with World Heritage (capitals required!). It is an obsession rooted in a worldview that is not pluralistic, but rather like the spirit of a competitive Olympic game in which there can be only one gold medal winner. The Chinese pursuit of this gold medal is a riveting and sometimes disturbing story, well presented by the author, Haiming Yan, in a book nicely produced by the publisher. This book brings a wealth of information and spirited discussion to a wide readership and could readily be considered for courses on heritage issues in Asia and globally. Yan traces Chinese struggles to get potential sites onto the official UNESCO World Heritage list in three dimensions, which he calls the universal agenda, national practices, and local responses. This is not a dry book dealing only with government-devised policies and international convention text-making. From time to time, Yan pays attention to the real people involved and notes both the joy, tears, sadness, and frustrations that mark the people actually engaged in these struggles.
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