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Cultural heritage in the contemporary world



12:30 – 14:20


1st semester

Lecture venue
Lecture time
Offer semester
  • Welcome to the world of cultural heritage! This course examines the background, debates, policies, and politics of cultural heritage from interdisciplinary perspectives, particularly through the sociological and anthropological lens. UNESCO includes a wide range of definitions of cultural heritage, such as ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’ heritage. All categories of cultural heritage are now regarded as essential to community building, proper governance, and economic development. The preservation, conservation, destruction, demolition, listing and delisting of heritage sites and historic documents have regularly attracted media and public attention, commercial interest, and contention among different communities. By introducing thematic issues through case examples from Hong Kong and other places around the world, students will be introduced to basic readings on cultural heritage, conservation policies, heritagization, tourism industries and the latest trends of heritage preservation.

    Group project

    There are four key themes in our course. First, we will explore the meaning of cultural heritage, and highlight some general issues and approaches to the study of heritage. Second, we will critically examine the socio-cultural significance of cultural heritage with different case examples. Third, we will consider the management of cultural heritage, including different preservation and conservation methods, as well as the politics behind the making and protection of heritage. Finally, we will look at the uses of cultural heritage in urban development and tourism. Together, we will explore our cultural stories, rituals, architectures, and ways of living. Come learn with us the cultural richness of Hong Kong and beyond!

  • Course Learning Outcomes – On completing the course, students will be able to:

    1. Describe, explain and connect the basic concepts and theories pertaining to cultural heritages using appropriate academic language.

    2. Critically examine the preservation and conservation of cultural heritages in Hong Kong and other societies using relevant theoretical knowledge.

    3. Demonstrate an awareness of the need for the sustainability of cultural heritages in contemporary society.

    4. Explain the significance of cultural heritages in everyday life and society from historical and contemporary perspectives.

    5. Evaluate the relationship between cultural heritages and tourist industry in the local and global environment.

  • Tasks




    Group project


    Semester checkpoint


    • Bourdieu, P. (1997). “The forms of capital”. In Halsey, A. H., Lauder, H., Brown, P., & Wells, A. S. (eds.), Education: Culture, Economy and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 46-58.

    • Crane, S. A. (2000). “Introduction: Of museums and memory.” In Crane, S. A. (ed.), Museums and Memory. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Pp. 1-13.

    • Harrison, R. (2013). Heritage: Critical approaches. New York: Routledge. Pp. 1-11; 14-20.

    • McDowell, S. (2008). “Heritage, memory and identity”. In Graham, B., & Howard, P. (eds.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Pub. Co. Pp. 37-53.

    • Peoples, J., & Bailey, G. (2017). Humanity: An introduction to cultural anthropology (11th edition). Australia: Cengage Learning. Pp. 10-30

    • Yahaya, A. (2006). The scope and definitions of heritage: From tangible to intangible. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 12(3), 292–300.

    • Anheier, H., & Isar, Y. R. (Eds.) (2011). Heritage, Memory & Identity. SAGE Publications Ltd.

    • Smith, L. (2006). Uses of heritage. New York: Routledge.

    • Stefano, M.L. and Davis, P. (eds.) (2016). The Routledge Companion to Intangible Cultural Heritage. London; New York: Routledge.

    • West, S. (2010). Understanding Heritage in Practice. New York: Manchester University Press in association with the Open University.

Part-time Lecturer, Teaching Assistant

Dr Steve W L Cheung
Course co-ordinator and teachers
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