Thesis Restructured, Abstract

Urban villages is an integral part of the city as they provide one of the only affordable housing options for migrants in the city. However, in Southern cities like Guangzhou, municipalities use heritage as a method to consolidate power over the use of urban village land with the agenda of creating an image of modernity in the cultured protection of the past.

Using Authorised Heritage Discourse as a theoretical basis, this thesis analyses the use of heritage as a technique of power, especially through the definition of heritage in a foreign concept of ‘materiality’ and the separation between expertise and communities in the urban village. In this context, this dominant heritage discourse creates a legitimisation of a disregard for communities’ needs and paths the way for their displacement in urban village redevelopments.

This thesis argues that the dominant heritage discourse needs to be resisted because it refutes communities’ rights to the city, especially that of the migrants’. To change the system, what is needed is a demonstration of the value of communities.

The thesis points to the emergence of a subaltern heritage discourse focusing on intangible cultural practices has the potential to form resistance to the dominant heritage discourse. This is a system where value exists in the transmission of traditions, skills and processes. The centre of this discourse lies with ‘inheritors’ who are members of specific communities and hold the keys to particular cultural knowledge. In other words, they enable an overlap between ‘community’ and ‘expertise’.

The thesis argues for the urgency for an alternative regeneration method that uses heritage, in the form of cultural transmission of knowledge, as a technique to empower communities and hence enables their sustainable and continuous right to the city.

Sermoneta

A walk in the medieval town of Sermoneta shows another story of life in the old times. Building were constantly repurposed, altered, destroyed and rebuilt. The construction technique is of course, based in stone. And many a times one can see the changes made, showing at once how adaptable and how made in stone the town is. 

Castello di Sermoneta

Castello di Sermoneta has a plethora of fascinating construction details and small spaces waiting to be explored. 

The entrance to the castle is a series of gates, drawbridges and winding steps – designed to weaken the enemy’s attack. There are also a couple of ‘roof lights’ which are holes right on top of gates, so defenders could pour down hot oil and stones onto their unwelcomed guests in battle. 

What I liked the most about the castle is perhaps its deep windows, sometimes going up to 3 metres deep. 

What is peculiar about these windows is that even though it is a castle, a number of these alcove spaces are meant as quiet reading spaces for its residents (Pope’s relatives). So although it is an impenetrable castle from the outside, with its rough stones and guarded gates, on the inside, it gives an impression of peace and tranquility. 

Another space that I found different is the horse stables. Covered with straws on the roof to withhold heat in the underground room, the stable can hold twenty horses. It is probably the definition of a medieval stable. I could almost see the knights preparing for battle, sense the horses getting uneasy, smell the blood and sweat and feel the incoming doom. The eeriness of the arched stable is increased tenfold with the rough texture of the straw roof – giving it an almost grotto-like atmosphere.

The internal courtyard is a story in itself. There are at least five different types of facades looking onto the courtyard, each working with the individual building’s history, function and aesthetics. 

ICCROM Built Heritage Forum at Tongji: Third Day Site Visit

On the last day, we visited two buildings in Shanghai, one slaughter house built in 1920s and Shanghai Centre finished in 2015. The former was an Arts and Crafts building purpose built as a slaughter house. Made in concrete and with the architect unknown, the design was different from any building found in Shanghai.

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ICCROM Built Heritage Forum at Tongji: First Day Morning Session Notes

The common themes during the morning speeches:

  • Heritage is not about admiring heritage itself but the value for development
  • Man = heritage/heritage = man
  • Heritage is not static
  • Heritage needs to be more process-driven and contribute to urbanisation
  • Destruction of heritage in China is too fast = protection is not fast enough
  • Culture as driver
  • Combine theory and practice
  • Heritage as an asset/resource

Alain Marinos from Chaillot in Paris

  • Case studies of heritage places utilized by the new generation and ‘third spaces’ in France
  • La Halle Pajol in Paris, his son works in there as one of the start-ups
  • Parc de la Vilette by Tsumi
  • The project is started by the community
    • It is from the ground up and government performs a supporting role to enable its visualisation
    • The government has since then been able to use this as a case study to support other kinds of community activities
    • What is essential is the community and their initiative

陈薇教授 from Northeast University

  • 金陵大报恩寺与塔的前世今生
  • Jin Ling Da En Temple and Tower
  • The tower had a heritage that existed in words, not in physical form
    • That is representative of Chinese heritage which was transmitted differently than Western heritage
  • The tower exists as ruins in some parts and completely absent in others
  • Different sections merit different strategies of conservation
    • Based on their historical importance
    • Issue of authenticity is key
    • How do you connect pieces?
    • How do you reconstruct history?
    • Framework is the most important to connect the pieces
      • From that people would be able to perceive and imagine with and within the framework – they can become active participants
    • That framework knowledge is understood through surveying and evaluating

张杰教授

  • 景德镇工业遗产
  • Regeneration of ceramic industrial heritage in Jingde Town
  • Intangible heritage and transmission/dissemination
  • Three key pointers
    • Conservation through social and economic development
    • Public space and urban infrastructure
    • Continuity of craftsmanship
  • Use industry as a driver of urban development (also providing employment)

ICCROM Built Heritage Forum at Tongji: Background Information on ICCROM

Built Heritage: A Cultural Motivator for Urban and Rural Development

In terms of ICCROM, the international organisation is more focused on training in the heritage sector. In terms of size, the order would be UNESCO > ICOMOS > ICCROM. In terms of operations, UNESCO takes charge of listing, ICOMOS takes charge of recommendations and identification and ICCROM in terms of training and education of people in practice. ICOMOS has been referred by people in the field (e.g. Matthias) as a ‘black box’, talking about its dire need to be more transparent and become less of a club and more of an inclusive organisation. UNESCO’s top-down approach of Charters and documents have also been commented on as being not effective on the ground, or even not been cared about. The ICCROM is, on the other hand, a much less known branch in built heritage. However, it is associated with WHITRAP, a training arm of UNESCO and was started in Suzhou, as an initiative by the Chinese government to bring people together since 2004.

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Counterheritage: Critical Perspectives on Heritage Conservation in Asia (Routledge Studies in Heritage)

Introduction

  • Popular religion and antiquities collecting constitutes the principle themes of Counterheritage. 
  • Along with Smith (2004, 2006), I view heritage discourse as essentially hegemonic (Bryne 1991, 1996). There is, as it were, a compact among heritage practitioners not to notice that heritage discourse constructs its own subject, that it constructs heritage items out of old things. This ‘not noticing’ may on the face of it seem innocent, but its effects are corrosive.
  • [But this is not Smith says in her book. Yes she argues that heritage is a discourse and a construct, but heritage practitioners as participants are acutely aware of the situation too].
  • The coinage ‘counterheritage’ denotes not an attack on heritage practice but an insistence on transparency. The book argues for a more democratic heritage practice, one that respects the existence of other ways of relating to old things and one prepared to take a clear-eyed view of its own history. 
  • I have advocated a ‘countermapping’ approach which, identifying the map as a technology of power in colonial and post-colonial settings, works to inscribe on maps those elements of the culture and historic of marginalised groups that official heritage mapping practices have neglected to ‘notice’.
  • Heritage’s opposition to the accretion of new on old fabric… Popular religion, by contrast, favours the piling up of fabric upon fabric, renovation upon renovation, according to the logic that spirits and deities are honoured by the labour and funding expended in the renewal and elboration of the fabric of their temples and shrines. Whereas heritage conservation seeks to stabilise built fabric, popular religion cannot seem to abide stasis.
  • Heritage discourse shares with archaeology with modern, Cartesian view that matter is inert and passive (Olsen 2010). This licenses conservators to treat temples as purely human artefacts rather than as phenomena that arise from the bundled effects of divine and human agency. Heritage discourse is wedded to modernity. Ontologically, it proceeds from modern secular rationalism. 
  • Asian popular religion, on the other hand, frames the world in a way similar ot that pertaining during the European Renaissance when all phenomena are created by God.