Nanluoguxiang: Imagined Heritage and Changing Communities

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This paper focuses on Nanluoguxiang (NLGX), a historic neighbourhood in Beijing, where the author lived for 2,5 years. The neighbourhood is one of 25 conservation areas in the city, and since 2008 a popular tourist attraction among both domestic and foreign tourists. The area has a long history and
many well preserved buildings, including two smaller museums. However, many aspects of the area’s rich history and old residents’ memories are ignored or largely invisible in the promotion and heritagization of the area. The visitor is confronted with an extreme commercial experience and a heritagescape that explores people’s nostalgia for an imagined traditional life framed and sold as ‘old
Beijing’ and ‘hutong’ life. The commercialization and gentrification of the area has also dramatically changed the life of old residents and their everyday spatial practices. However, new forms of cultural activities and communities have also emerged in the area that shows how memories and heritage are constantly evolving. The paper explores the confluence and negotiations between imagined, commercial and hidden stories of NLGX. It pays particular emphasis to the sensory and spatial
xperiences of old and new residents, visitors and tourists. The paper is inspired by recent works on sensory and visual ethnographic methods, and makes ample use of the authors’ long-term knowledge of the area, different visual documentations, and a range of mediated stories about the area.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAsian Dynamics Initiative Conference 2016: Heritaizing Asia - Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 2016 Jun 202016 Jun 22


ConferenceAsian Dynamics Initiative Conference 2016
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • History and Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies


  • heritage
  • China
  • Asia
  • urban history
  • Asian studies


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