An evaluation of the importance and impact of the 1964 Venice Charter on cultural heritage preservation efforts requires context, given that this accord had the very specific goal of preserving the world’s most significant archaeological sites and monuments. Over the past five decades the charter has been supplemented by more than forty additional international and regional conventions and accords on the nebulous topic of heritage. In the process, the meaning and scope of this concept has steadily expanded far beyond monumental and historical built space. Consequently, what began as an attempt to protect one type of built space and a particular type of scientific practice has been transformed into a transnational movement that claims to protect the material and cultural heritage of all the world’s peoples. Spearheaded by UNESCO, the world heritage movement has assumed the existence of not just cross-cultural agreement on what constitutes world heritage but also universal consensus on how heritage should be organized, displayed, and protected. Examining heritage policies in the People’s Republic of China illustrates the continued importance of culture in how heritage is conceived, as well as the multiple reasons why state actors and citizens engage in the practice of heritage-making.


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pp. 388-403
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