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Accepted Paper:

Filling in the Gaps of Planning a Traditional Ethnic Minority Chinese Village  
Suvi Rautio (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

In outlining how the architectural layout and surrounding landscape of a Chinese ethnic minority village are modeled and rationalised into objects of aesthetics readings to become a living heritage site, this paper explores the gaps that form and how they are sustained between planning and outcome.

Paper long abstract:

Based on my thirteen months of ethnographic research, this paper explores the role research plays in guiding preservation plans to remodel an ethnic minority village in China's Guizhou province into a 'traditional' living heritage site. In outlining how the architectural layout and surrounding landscape of an ethnic minority village are planned, modelled and rationalised into objects of aesthetics readings, the paper explores how these mirror broader national and global trends grounded on notions of ethnicity and the rural living. In doing so, the paper discusses how readings are incorporated into decision-making based on research that distances the third-person to address objective truth that separates the subjective experience of residents living in the village. Following Jones and Yarrow's (2013) research on conservation practices, the paper argues that distancing in planning is framed "in which the multiplicity and instability of the object of conservation are exposed and negotiated" (p. 23) to generates gaps between the plan and research outcome. These gaps are never empty, but contain "relations, interweaving of things" (Green 2005: 158), which remould themselves into opportunities for residents to claim autonomy and monopolise how decisions are made regardless of how they are planned. In outlining the workings behind filling in the gaps of planning a traditional ethnic minority Chinese village, my paper sheds light to how the underlying gaps across key decision makers and their interlocutors are sustained to retain meaningfulness in the actions that come forth in planning.

Panel P037
Museums as contested terrains: Memory work and politics of representation in Greater China
  Session 1 Sunday 3 June, 2018, -