Tradition, memory and the culture of place

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Tradition, memory and the culture of place continuity and change in the ancient city of Pingyao, China
Wang, Shu-Yi
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xv, 220 leaves : ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
History -- Pingyao (China) ( lcsh )
China -- Pingyao ( fast )
History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 210-220).
General Note:
College of Architecture and Planning
Statement of Responsibility:
by Shu-Yi Wang.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
263685086 ( OCLC )
LD1193.A735 2008d W36 ( lcc )

Full Text
Shu-Yi Wang
B.S., Chinese Cultural University, Taiwan, 1989
M.U.R.P., University of Colorado at Denver, USA, 1993
A dissertation submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Design and Planning
. r"v
A 1

by Shu-Yi Wang
All rights reserved.

This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Shu-Yi Wang
has been approved
Timothy S. Oakes

Wang, Shu-Yi (Ph.D., Design and Planning)
Tradition, Memory and the Culture of Place: Continuity and Change in the Ancient
City of Pingyao
Thesis directed by Professor Thomas A. Clark
The Ancient City of Pingyao, established in 1368 during the Ming Dynasty, is a
prototype of ancient Han Chinese cities, and is an excellent example with which to
explore the social system and physical planning in late imperial China. A successful
financial city in the Qing Dynasty and a living city during the communist era,
Pingyao was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The citys new
role as a domestic and international tourism destination has yielded unique social and
cultural impacts. These are the subject of this dissertation.
The order of nature and the power of religion dominated the original layout of the
2.25 square kilometer city. The symmetrical arrangement of its traditional anchor
elements, such as religious structures, municipal buildings, and commercial streets,
represented the ritual canons, lifestyle and belief system of the people living within.
Historically, the character of the traditional anchor elements created a unique
morphology in the surrounding region. Functional changes to the traditional anchor
elements in different political eras fostered morphological changes to the land
utilization patterns surrounding these elements. Pingyaos place identity persists in
the pattern and content of the extant traditional anchor elements, and these
contextualize the lives of contemporary resident. Traditional anchor elements were
places to cultivate local culture, a sense of place and residents identity, and today they

serve as a repository of collective memory among local residents across the powerful
social transformations experienced in China.
In recent years, tourism-driven development has been given priority in the historic
city. Tourists encounter a city whose material authenticity is profoundly shaped by
contemporary interventions. Authenticity is now staged for the edification of tourists.
The spatial structure surrounding the traditional elements consequently has changed.
In addition, the imposition of new functions upon traditional anchor elements has
transformed their roles in local imagery and identity. The tourism-driven
interpretation of local history today jeopardizes continuity in localized cultural
meanings and practices.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Thomas A. Clark


* PqlJfi

This dissertation would not have seen the light of the day without the support of my
committee members, family, colleagues and friends. I also want to express my
gratitude to many friends in the Ancient City of Pingyoa and scholars in China. Their
countless help is the major strength in making this research a success.
I am deeply grateful to my dissertation committee for their guidance, support and
encouragement. Tom Clark, who I owe a great depth of gratitude, agreed to guide me
through the dissertation stage when Michael Holleran transferred to the University of
Texas. His gentle guidance, insightful comments and critical thinking have been an
inspiration to me. I owe special thanks to Michael Holleran who brought me to the
field of historic preservation, strengthened my enthusiasm and encouraged my choice
of Ph.D. study. Many thanks to Hans Morgenthaler, from whom I learned how to be
a teacher and scholar via the walk to the architecture history class twice a week for
many years. I appreciate the time and effort of other members of my commijttee, Tim
Oakes and Chris Koziol.
I am also grateful to my friends and colleagues for their intellectual and emotional
support. Thank you Chihfang, Piyao, Michael, Chiafen, Joe, Michelle, Alex,
Manish, A-Jane, Yiping, Haewon, Charling, Kris, Pat, Lance, Priya, Kelly, Sandra,
Bambi and Barb. Special thanks to Jenny for her patience and time and patience in
editing this dissertation.
Most of all, I thank my dear parents and family. With their continued support and
encouragement, I could freely fulfill dreams that most Asian women in my generation
would have to put off or give up.

1. INTRODUCTION................................................1
Research Background......................................3
China Syndrome........................................4
Dilemma of the Historic Cities in China...............9
Statement of Research Purpose...........................11
Research Statement.................................... 11
Core of the Research................................. 15
Research Questions and Conceptual Diagram...............18
Research Question....................................18
Conceptual Diagram...................................20
Significance of the Research............................22
Organization of the Research..:.........................23
HISTORIC WORLD HERITAGE CITY................................25
Scope of Related Literature in This Research

Definition and Emergence of Heritage............................27
World Heritage and Its Contemporary Impacts.....................29
World Heritage Program......................................30
Impact from World Heritage Designation......................32
Historical Townscape and Cultural Continuity....................38
A morphological Approach from Conzenian Research............38
Conservation of Historical Townscape........................41
Cultural Sustainability in a Historical Urban Context.......43
Heritage Tourism and Cultural Commodification...................46
Heritage for Economic Purpose...............................46
Socio-cultural Impact of Tourism Development on Host
Authenticity in Heritage Tourism............................54
Authenticity and the Sense of Place.........................56
Conclusion: Revisiting Urban Conservation of a Living
Historic City...................................................62

Site Selection................................................65
The Ancient City of Pingyao................................67
Importance of the Site.....................................67
Research methods..............................................69
Data Collection...............................................70
Residents Survey and Interviews...........................70
Document Research..........................................74
Direct Observation.........................................76
Data Analysis.................................................78
Data Structure.............................................78
Data Presentation and Analysis.............................79
BETWEEN 1386 AND 1978 ............................................81
Philosophy of Chinese City Building...........................82
Chinese Cosmic Principles and Ritual Canons................83
Religion and Way of Life...................................85
The Inclusion of Social Issue in Local Cities..............86
The Ancient City of Pingyao in the Imperial Period: 1368 to 1948.... 87
Site Selection and City Form...............................88
City Layout and Street Pattern.............................90

Arrangement of Traditional Anchor Elements and Their
Social Meanings in the Late Qing Dynasty.......
The Influence of the Jin Merchant Culture on City Building.100
The Communist Period: 1949 to 1978............................105
Communism and Social Control..........................105
City Planning and Functional Re-arrangement...........108
Hierarchical Shift in the Urban Townscape.............114
TOWNSCAPE INTERPRETATION....................................115
Historic Preservation and Heritage Designation in China..116
Designation of Historic Sites.........................117
Historic Sites in the Ancient City of Pingyao.........119
Elimination, Preservation and Reinvention of Townscape
World Heritage Site Nomination........................123
Reinterpretation of History...........................124
Selected Heritage in the Ancient City of Pingyao......129
Restoration and Redevelopment.........................131
Heritage Development.....................................136
Dilemma in Pingyao....................................137
Development of Heritage Tourism.......................141
Impacts from the Development of Heritage Tourism......147

Heritage Tourism and Cultural Continuity of a Historical
A Mirror with Two Sides Tourism Development v.s.
Urban Conservation.......................................154
Staged Authenticity and Cultural Commodification.........157
Traditional Elements in Historical Townscapes................163
Application of Morphological Research to
Historical Townscape.....................................163
Traditional Anchor Elements, Spatial Structure and
Hierarchical Regions.....................................166
Space, Activities and Memory.................................171
Traditional Anchor Elements and Their Social Functions...172
Meaningful Places in Local Memory........................175
Local Residents Memories of the Traditional Anchor
Memories and Places......................................180
Morphological Meanings of Traditional Anchor Elements........185
7. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS........................................189
Summery of This Study........................................190
Significant Findings of This Study...........................192
Lost in Interpretation...................................192
Interruption in Local Culture............................197

Future Direction of Research.......................203
Survey and Interview Questions...........................205

Figure 1.1: Impact of World Heritage Designation on a Historic City in China.11
Figure 1.2: Diagram of Research Scenario of Tourist and Historic City........21
Figure 2.1: Location of the Ancient City of Pingyao in China.................65
Figure 4.1: Yin-Yang and the Five Elements of City Building..................84
Figure 4.2: Fengshui Plan of the Ancient City of Pingyao.....................89
Figure 4.3: Historical Map of the Ancient City of Pingyao in 1883............91
Figure 4.4: City Layout and the Arrangement of Traditional Anchor Buildings..92
Figure 4.5 : Five models of Traditional Chinese City Plans...................93
Figure 4.6: Plan, Section and Elevation of a Private Courtyard Compound......103
Figure 4.7: Cavelike Structure (yaodong) (left); Combination of Traditional
Courtyard and Yaodong (right).............................................. 103
Figure 4.8: Locations of New Structures......................................111
Figure 4.9: Performance Hall (Left); Court of Pingyao County (Right).........111
Figure 5.1: Locations of Historic Sites......................................122
Figure 5.2: Interpretation Process...........................................140
Figure 5.3: Pictures of the Tourist District and Museum Displays.............144
Figure 5.4: Tourism Destinations.............................................146
Figure 7.1: The Selection and Reinterpretation of History of the Walled City.195

Table 1.1: Total visitor arrivals and receipts in China, 2001-2006................7
Table 2.1: Sampling strategy.....................................................71
Table 2.2: Data structure........................................................79
Table 5.1: Registration of public buildings.....................................120
Table 5.2: Registration of vernacular building..................................121
Table 5.3: Restoration of traditional anchor buildings..........................133
Table 5.4: Types of shops in tourism district and their percentage in year 2005.143
Table5.5: Tourism revenue and tourist received in the Ancient City of Pingyao...146
Table 5.6: Impact attributes by local residents.................................149
Table5.7: the reasons and percentage of moving plan...........................,...152
Table 6.1: Ranks of impressive places to local residents........................177
Table 6.2: Rank of places related to daily life of local residents..............178
Table 6.3: Top ten places in local residents memory............................180
Table 6.4: Rank of places in different descriptive purposes.....................187
Table 7.1: Function of traditional anchor elements in different time periods....199

The Ancient City of Pingyao in China is a prototypical walled city of the Han
nationality from the late Qing Dynasty. The high integrity of its architectural
excellence, planning philosophy and social structure are valued and studied by
planners, conservationists, and sociologists. In addition, the walled city consists of
rich cultural relics, both tangible and intangible, which are remarkable resources for
creating nostalgia and novelty for postmodern tourists.
In 1997, the Ancient City of Pingyao was inscribed on the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site
List. World Heritage designation meant Pingyao, one of the poorest cities in China,
would have the opportunity to regenerate its physical and economic environment by
developing heritage tourism. Walled cities are always a tourist attraction, and the
Ancient City of Pingyao is no exception. Since 1997, thousands of tourists, both
international and domestic, have visited the city. While they have brought economic
opportunities and modem life to the local community, they have also stimulated
physical, social, and cultural changes.
When this study began in 2004, the Ancient City of Pingyao was a living city mixed
with a certain amount of tourism, and it was still exploring the best possibilities for its
future development. Several changes have occurred over the past years. Tourist-

oriented policies have pushed local activities out of the citys traditional anchor
elements and have indirectly moved many local residents to the new town adjacent to
the walled city. Traditional anchor elements, including temples, government offices,
the city tower, the city wall, and the commercial district, were centers of local life and
now are for tourists only. The designation of these sites as tourist destinations,
complete with festival decoration, signifies the cultural commodification that has
begun to take place in the walled city. The issue of the continuity of the ancient local
culture is thus critical at this moment.
Nonetheless, compared with other cultural sites that have been devastated by tourism
development in China, for two reasons, the Ancient City of Pingyao still has the
potential to continue as a living city and accommodate both local and global needs.
First, it is experiencing relatively slower economic development due to its frigid
winters and less financial support from the central government. Thus it has
experienced less destruction of its physical environment and spatial structure.
Second, the value of Pingyao is in its high integrity traditional city planning at the
local city level.
This study is primarily an exploratory investigation into the role of traditional anchor
elements in achieving cultural continuity in the Ancient City of Pingyao, and by
extension, in historical cities in China more generally. With the support of historical
research and extensive field work in Pingyao, this case study is conducted to explain
how the heritage tourism development that has occurred since 1997 is shaping
cultural commodification in the walled city through space consumption, and how the
citys cultural continuity has been affected by the functional change of traditional
anchor elements. This undertaking is a qualitative research study, compiled with
supportive quantitative research. Memories of local people about places within
Pingyao, and inteipretations of the history' of the walled city from different sectors are

included as evidence with which to answer research questions and to explain the
limitations and possibilities of a historic city.
Research Background
The early recognition of the value and meaning of historical cities in Europe has
achieved the preservation of several medieval walled cities and historic districts in
modem European cities. Compared with historical cities in Europe, urban
conservation in developing countries in Asia is considered passive and is continually
driven by the economic value of the sites heritage. Most historical cities and sites in
China that have survived destruction intend to develop a tourism industry (smokeless
industry) and treat tourism development as an immediate channel to regenerating the
local economy and to improving the poor physical environment. The Ancient City of
Pingyao is one such city.
Given the general background of China in decades, the development of the walled
city cannot be examined separately from the overall economic and cultural
development environment. Thus, a general review of cultural issues in China and the
challenges specific to the Ancient City of Pingyao will be necessary before delving
into the content of the dissertation.

China Syndrome
After the Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1911, severe internal and external upheavals
shook China for 40 years. China united again in 1949 when the Chinese Communist
Party' under Mao Zedong started the Chinese Socialist Revolution, and the new
socialist culture dominated the entire country and induced mass destruction of
traditional culture inherited from previous dynasties. What resulted was not only the
destruction of the past, but a grim and uncertain future filled with poverty and want.
The sudden governmental transformation deprived most people of the freedom of
travel, open speech, marriage, and religious belief.
Since the Economic Reform7Open Door policy of 1978, China has experienced
rapid economic development and environmental change. In 2007, Chinas gross
domestic product (GDP) was ranked fourth in the world. The open market policy has
attracted a great amount of foreign investment and international tourist visits.
However, the Chinese government is still struggling with the transformation from
Chinese Socialism to an era of burgeoning capitalism. This time of fast economic
growth has caused the economic value of culturai heritage to be confused with its
cultural value at both the national and local levels.
Transformation from Socialism to
Modernism and Globalization "r 1
Because of the duration of internal and external political turbulence in the late Qing
Dynasty, China suffered from a lack of confidence in its own culture after its defeat in
the Boxer Rebellion at the hands of the Eight-Power Expeditionary Force and the
signing of the Treaty of 1901, Peace Agreement between the Great Powers and

China. The feudal system finally ceased in 1911, after centuries of oppression of
Chinese society.
When Mao Zedong began the Chinese Socialist Revolution in 1949 under the theory
of totalistic iconoclasm (Lin 1979, quoted in Sofield & Li, 1998. p. 363), he
provided hope for the future and broke down the social inequalities of the late Qing
dynasty. Since 1949, China has straggled to find the balance between modernization
and socialism. Among several movements the Chinese government has initiated, the
Great Leap Forward in the 1950s was socialisms symbolic pursuit of modernization.
However, the severe Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976 indicated the
disconnection between the new socialist culture and older Chinese tradition. The
Chinese government consistently encountered conflicting directions while it
attempted to establish a new national identity. Ultimately, China disconnected itself
from the rest of the world for 40 years.
When the Open Door policy was adopted by Den Xiaoping in 1978, China was
facing another challenge, this time from globalization. The Open Door policy forced
China to get closer to the rest of the world by offering policies of openness and
strategies of friendliness. In terms of money and growth, the Open Door policy was a
success, since most Chinese cities have experienced rapid economic development
since its introduction. However, the gap between urban and rural development is a
serious issue that the Chinese government is going to have to face in the near future.
The Chinese government is struggling to maintain the dual existence of its socialist
system and modem development. China is facing a dialectic situation of a socialist
system of government control at the national level, with modem development and
capitalism at the local level.

Tourism development
China is likely to replace the United States as the world's third most popular tourist
destination by 2008 (France and Spain rank first and second, respectively). The
World Tourism Organization has also predicted that China is to be the worlds largest
market for tourists by 2020 (China Daily, May 20, 2007)'.
During the last decade, the Open Door policy and its resulting economic reforms have
enabled domestic and international tourism to grow in China. According to statistics
from its own National Tourism Administration (NTA), the tourism industry in China
is the nations most rapidly growing economic activity and is the most influential
factor in determining the local and national economy1 2. In addition, the change in
political atmosphere has encouraged the development of domestic tourism, which is
now one of the most popular activities among Mainland Chinese. After years of
restriction on travel, Chinese tourists are now eager to witness their nations
enormous territory, geographical variety and cultural diversity which are open to
them through tourism. Table 1.1 shows the number of visitors and total receipts for
both domestic and international tourism from 2001 to 2006.
1 Webpage: 876375.htm Accessed on
2 Webpage: --004001 Accessed 03/05/2007

Table 1.1: Total visitor arrivals and receipts in China, 2001-2006
Year International Tourism Receipts (US$ Billion) Number of international tourists (Including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao) Domestic Tourism Receipts (CNY Million) Number of domestic tourists (CNY Million)
2001 17.792 89,010,000 352,236 784
2002 20.390 97,910.000 556,600 oc oc
2003 17.406 91,662,100 -
2004 25.739 109,038,2.00 471,100 1,102
2005 29.296 120,292,300 528,600 1,212
2006 33.949 - 622,974 1,394
CNY 1 = US$ 0.127 in Nov, 2006
Source: Reports of statistics of domestic and international tourism receipts3, China National Tourism
Redefinition of cultural heritage
When Chinese socialism was established in 1949, its leaders criticized traditional
Chinese culture for being unscientific, feudal, anti-modem and anti-socialist (Sofield
& Li, 1998). Any social science research related to cultural heritage was considered
to be bourgeois and connected with capitalism and the West, and any endorsement of
cultural heritage was considered an impediment to new development. Thus, cultural
heritage from previous dynasties, not to mention cultural preservation, was ignored.
The movement in China that destroyed most of its traditional culture was the Cultural
Revolution from 1966 to 1976. It was waged in the name of getting rid of the old
fours old thoughts, old customs, old habits and old culture. During the Cultural 3
3 Webpage: Accessed 03/05/2007

Revolution, most Chinese traditional culture was destroyed by Maos Red Guards and
was replaced by a new socialist culture (Sofield & Li, 1998, p. 364). A great
amount of high value cultural heritage was destroyed, including both tangible and
intangible objects.
After the Economic Reform in 1978, development of tourism related to cultural
heritage became a symbol of modernism. The preservation of cultural heritage
became a way for the Chinese government to make a statement of democracy and
diversity to the world. Cities and towns are aware of the concept of restoration and
the rehabilitation of tangible heritage. However, there are disparate interpretations of
historic preservation that reveal a gap in understanding between the locals and the
central government. The central government treats the preservation and conservation
of traditional culture as an immediate task because of the high cultural capital it
generates and its enhancement of national unity (Sofield & Li, 1998) and
international identity. On the other hand, locals have seen tourism development as a
money-making machine that brings economic enhancement to their community. For
both the central and local governments, the attraction of international tourists is the
first priority for cultural re-establishment.
After being disconnected from the rest of the world since 1949, China re-opened itself
beginning with Deng Xiaopings Open Door policies of 1978. The desire for
modernity and the influence of the West has challenged traditional culture in Chinese
society and has accelerated the destruction of historical cities. Historical cities with
high cultural value, if they are to survive, must become economic resources for the
domestic and international tourism industry under the pressure of a globalizing

Dilemma of the Historic Cities in China
In 1997, two historical cities in China were inscribed on the UNESCO World
Heritage Site List. They were the Ancient City of Pingyao in the Shanxi Province
and Old Town Lijiang in the Yunnan Province. The designation as one of the World
Heritage Sites is an effective way for a city to participate in the global village, to
receive an international reputation and national attention, and to attract tourism
development. In addition to these benefits from gaining a worldwide reputation,
designation as a World Heritage site has also played an influential role in the
preservation of historical cities in China.
The concept of historic preservation did not exist before the rapid development and
mass production of modem society. In Chinas long history, the widespread
destruction of what had been established in the previous dynasty was an expected part
of rebuilding of a new dynasty. Although walled cities were typical of city planning
in ancient China, they have become an endangered species (Bruce & Creighton,
2006, p. 238) due to their mass destruction in the name of economic development
(Bruce & Creighton, 2006). Most of the walled cities in China were recently
demolished and replaced with modem road systems and concrete buildings in order to
accommodate the needs of rapid economic growth. The Ancient City of Pingyao is
now considered to be the only existing walled city built according to the dictates of
Han culture.
The economic incentive behind historic preservation has helped to save several
cultural and natural sites in China. A well-preserved historic city with authenticity in
terms of spatial morphology and richness in meaning will inevitably become a tourist
destination (Gospodini, 2001). In fact, attracting tourists to historic towns and cities
is a major inducement for urban and economic development in China. Moreover, a
citys inscription on the World Heritage Site List has been seen as a panacea with

which to improve the sites economic difficulties and physical environment
However, because historical cities in less-developed and developing countries usually
have less confidence in their traditional culture, the impact of tourism development
on their social and cultural environments is likely to be more detrimental than in cities
in developed countries. A historical city has to satisfy needs of different groups of
people with different demands, including both tourists and local residents. Because
of economic motives, local governments often either suppress or ignore the needs of
the locals. Thus, the cultural continuity of local communities has been challenged by
policies implemented to support tourism development. Figure 1.1 conceptualizes the
general situation of an historic city in China that is facing the temptation of World
Heritage designation and the possibility of losing its cultural essence due to modem
development and cultural commodification.
In addition to development pressures from the tourism industry, historic cities in
China are also experiencing a dialectic situation of the rejection and elimination of
the socialist culture. Usually, after a city is inscribed on the World Heritage Site List,
the entire city is restored back to its height for tourism development. The
interpretation of a sites history is quite selective during the World Heritage Site
application process and the purpose of the selection is tourism-driven. Often as a
result of the debate over whose history? and restoration for whom?, local
residents become disconnected from the city.

Figure 1.1: Impact of World Heritage Designation on a Historic City in China
Statement of Research Purpose
Research Statement
A historic city with a strong sense of place can be seen as a matrix that holds a rich
cultural essence inherited from past generations. Its social fabric and vibrant
economic activity sum up a unique but delicate urban townscape, a so-called urban

settlement with strong urban diversity and significance. Historical townscapes that
have continued to this day are the accumulation of man-made forms and their
functional interaction with the society. Historical cities societies changed over time.
Certain aspects including their physical, spatial and social environments would have
adjusted to fit the needs of each society. Eventually, the changes in different periods
would produce certain types of spatial structures in historical townscapes (Conzen,
The German geographer Conzen studied several historic towns in England in the
early 1990s, seeing the historic town as a spatially defined social complex (Conzen,
1981a, p. 80), and developed three form complexities with which to interpret the
historical townscape. These three major complexities include the town plan (which
includes the street system, plot pattern, and building arrangement), the building
fabric, and land utilization patterns. All of these attributes are key components of the
interpretation of the historical evolution and morphological process of the historic
city in different time periods However, the focus of urban conservation is usually a
citys physical environment instead of its social attributes. The over-emphasis on the
physical environment usually results in ignoring the social meanings of monuments in
their historical context. This also damages the continuity of traditional culture and its
transformation, especially for tourism-driven historic cities in less-developed and
developing countries.
Recently, due to the popularity of tourism development in the 1980s and the renewed
appreciation of cultural heritage around the world, tourism development has become
an important possibility for the future of historical cities. At the same time, tourism
development has also become one of the major threats to the cultural continuity of
historic cities, as their cultural value gets replaced with tourist-oriented nostalgia and
novelty. When a historical living city, especially in developing and less-developed
countries, becomes a tourist destination, the entire display tends to favor the needs of

tourists (Greenwood, 1977; Lask & Herold, 2005) and suppress the needs of the local
community. In some cases, tourism development has affected the meanings of the
townscape and the memories of the local community members. Furthermore, a
shared understanding of the purpose of the selective interpretation of history
sometimes does not exist between the elite decision-makers and the locals (Nasser,
2003a; Sullivan, 2003). Thus, the issue of cultural continuity is evoked. Ashworth
(1994) comments on the situation strongly by saying [a]ll heritage involves choice
from a wide range of pasts, many of which will not be selected. It is not the existence
of this disinheritance, but the failure to recognize it that presents problems (p. 28).
Accordingly, most historical cities face the challenge of accommodating modem
needs under the pressure of economic growth. Urban conservation in historic cities is
seen as a tool with which to bridge development and preservation, to prevent the
exclusion of local residents and to benefit them while simultaneously hosting the
tourists. Scholars claim the goal of urban conservation is to preserve the physical
characteristics of the old cores as the focal point of history and culture in the modem
cities as well as the center for creating life, activity and socio-economic viability
(Karimi, 2000, p 230). However, the inclusion of local activities alongside tourism in
historical environments is usually ignored during the process of urban conservation
and development, and this has been especially obvious in China.
In Chinese city building, the arrangement and the uses of traditional public structures
play important roles in the construction of the spatial environment and the creation of
the genius loci of the city. Karimis comparison between old English cities and old
Iranian cities points out the importance of traditional urban elements in a historical
townscape and the spatial structure they have created through time in terms of the
preservation of urban fabric instead of individual buildings. In addition, the study
also showed that historic cores with well-preserved traditional patterns easily keep

their spatial rule or spatial spirit (Karimi, 2000, p. 222) and maintain the
relationships between the spatial components of the urban system.
Researchers like Nasser (2003a), Kupke (1997) and Kropf (1996) share similar
observations with Karimi. Traditional urban elements and the spatial structure are the
key components for preserving the traditional relationships and hierarchies. The
centers of the spatial structure are usually referred to as traditional [anchor]
elements (Karimi, 2000, p. 230) that have high degrees of commercial and social
meaning and accommodate major activities of the city. Through this notion, the
concept of a hierarchy of regions (Larkham, 1990, p. 353) is specifically delineated,
indicating the patterns of development favored in the city through time. Changes in
political situations, social structure, and economic circumstances affect the usages of
traditional buildings and shifts the townscape hierarchy, and finally transforms the
historical townscape.
The issue of heritage has to be discussed together with the concept of authenticity and
commodification, since the re-creation and innovation of heritage is for the needs of
contemporary society (Ashworth, 1995; Lowenthal, 1998). History is the
remembered record of the past: heritage is a contemporary commodity purposefully
created to satisfy contemporary consumption (Ashworth, 1994, p.16). Similarly,
Fayall and Garrod (1998) see heritage tourism as an economic activity that makes
use of socio-cultural assets to attract visitors (p. 213).
An issue which has induced fervent dissussion is the authenticity of cultural heritage
under the influence of tourism development. Not only does the dominance of
heritage tourism in a historic city damage the daily life of local people, but also
transforms the meaning of the conserved schemata and uses them as
tourism/economic resources (Gospodini, 2004, p. 228). The phenomena of cultural
commodification creates staged authenticity in tourist settings (MacCannell, 1973,

p. 589). Scholars worry that during the process of trading money for culture, the
authenticity of local culture is possibly lost (Cohen, 1988; Greenwood, 1977).
According to Assi (2000), authenticity in the society of a historic city will be
reflected in the continuation of traditions and traditional types of function and use.
This will necessarily involve gradual changes in the built environment that may be
seen as an expression of an authentic cultural and social spirit (p. 67). In the case of
the Ancient City of Pingyao, the citys traditional anchor elements temples,
governmental buildings and commercial district played important roles in the
establishment of the social structure, social networks, cultural values, and social
stability in the feudal system. These traditional public structures and spaces were also
the centers of the spatial structure, key elements in creating a sense of place and
genius loci for the local population, and the media through which the identity of the
city was indicated (Nuryanti, 1996), both through the evolution of its physical
heritage and its human culture (Rodwell, 2003). The traditional anchor elements in
traditional Chinese cities such as the Ancient City of Pingyao indeed are the catalysts
that carry local culture to future generations; they are important for hosting local
activities in different social and political epochs, creating a sense of place, and
building up a mutual memory among the locals. Thus, changing the functions of
traditional anchor elements to respond to the needs of tourists profoundly influences
local life and the continuity of local culture .
Core of the Research
In my research, the Ancient City of Pingyao in China was used as a case study to
investigate the role of traditional anchor elements in the historic city as catalysts for

the continuity of traditional culture, as well as the impact of their transformation to fit
modem needs of both tourists and locals.
The Ancient City of Pingyao was originally planned according to Han cultural
traditions, including the layout of the city, street pattern, and arrangement of anchor
buildings. The city is well-preserved and still remains intact today, which enables it
to be a popular tourist attraction as well as a place that fascinates planners, architects,
and conservationists worldwide for its historical integrity, architectural excellence
and reflection of traditional Han culture and social values.
Most cultural heritage in China is related to religions and public structures from
previous dynasties. Since 1949, religions were forbidden in practice, and traditional
anchor elements lost their original meaning. Although the Ancient City of Pingyao
experienced little influence from political movements, such as the Great Leap
Forward in 1958, the Cultural Revolution in 1966, the functions of traditional
buildings changed in Socialist China. When the Ancient City of Pingyao was
prepared for its inscription on the World Heritage List in the 1990s, most traditional
anchor elements were restored back to their original style and form, and have become
popular tourist destinations. The phenomenon is more cultural commodification than
cultural development. Local activities are not allowed in these traditional anchor
In ancient Chinese city building theory, traditional anchor elements played important
roles in the administrative system and in the late Qing Dynasty, were social centers
designed to cultivate social stabilization. They were the centers of local life, and the
source of the continuation of local culture for centuries. Most of these traditional
anchor elements are government compounds and temples of varying religion. In
addition to their regular functions in society, they have also been the key components

that formulate the townscape hierarchy and spatial structure through different political
China has gone through many different political epochs in the past 100 years, each of
which brought different memories to local communities and transformed culture into
different contours. The Ancient City of Pingyao was a place in which the local
community carried on its physical, spatial and social evolution through different time
periods. Now the citys activities have yielded to tourists needs, and it fails to
balance these with those of the locals. The connection between the city and local
community is further weakened by the implementation of tourist-oriented public
policies. This disconnection of local activities from the traditional anchor elements
where people have mutual memories is detrimental to cultural continuity in the
Ancient City of Pingyao.
In my research, I will explore this issue with two approaches. One is by examining
the importance of traditional anchor elements in the citys different political periods,
and the dialectic situation that the local community has experienced when tourism-
driven policies dominate the future of their traditional anchor elements. The other is
the investigation of local residents memories of activities and places, which supports
the hypothesis that traditional anchor elements are the catalyst that facilitates the
continuity of local culture. Peoples descriptions, will reveal the attributes and
importance of some specific places inside the walled city that form the local culture
and lifestyle. The reaction of the local community to tourism development could be a
means by which to further understand the conflict, between tourism development and
cultural continuity.

Research Question and Conceptual Diagram
Research Question
The main research question of this study is:
With its local historical legacy and the assistance of conservation policy, how can
a historical town/city sustain its local culture while accommodating both local
needs and tourists curiosity during its evolutionary process?
For a historic city like the Ancient City of Pingyao, tourism development becomes a
vital route to an improved economic and physical environment. With its rich tangible
cultural heritage, the conservation policies enacted by the local government could
direct the historical townscape into a living city that accommodates both the needs of
the local residents and those of tourists. However, the government tends to favor
tourism development, and the local residents typically tolerate this in order to receive
the immediate economic benefit that tourism provides.
Here, local historical legacy refers to the physical environment, especially the
traditional anchor elements on which this study focuses and the spatial structure
around them. My notion of local culture echoes Williams (1976) and Rapoport
(1984)s definition of culture as a particular way of life, a set of values and beliefs.
These are expressed not only in art and learning, but in institutional and ordinary
behavior; in addition, they are transmitted to members of the group through
enculturation. In the Ancient City of Pingyao, a certain way of life has been
established over a long period of time through social networks and institutional
influence. Its local culture has been expressed through the mutual recognition of

common places and institutional activities. By way of the introduction of
evolutionary processes, local culture is expected to be delivered to future generations.
Two sub-questions allow me to better delineate the research question.
a. How do the dissonances between official and local interpretations of the
historical townscape affect the direction of its cultural development?
The character of the historical townscape has been defined by its form complexities in
different political periods. Interpretation of the townscape is based in terms of the
needs of its society in time. In this case study of the Ancient City of Pingyao, three
major changes in the interpretation of the townscape happened in one century, and
they all affected the establishment of a sense of place. The most recent change has
centered on tourism development, and the conflicting purposes of interpretation have
had a huge impact on the citys social structure and cultural continuity. How does the
interpretation of representative history affect policies that favor tourism development,
impact local life, and eventually induce socio-cultural changes?
b. With their meanings and functions changed in different political eras, how
can traditional anchor elements help to sustain local culture?
Comparable to churches in Western cities, temples are traditional anchor elements in
historical townscapes in Asia. They are centers that establish a hierarchical spatial
structure in historic cities. The uses of these traditional anchor structures have
changed according the needs of the local society at that time. The connection
between people and these places is the mechanism for the continuity of local culture.
In this case study of the Ancient City of Pingyao, after the different political and
social changes it has gone through, what is the meaning of the traditional anchor
elements in the minds of local populations? How do they play important roles in
daily life and in memory?

Conceptual Diagram
Figure 1.2 is a diagram of types of historic cities. The Ancient City of Pingyao is a
tourist-historic city (Ashworth & Tunbridge, 1990) that is facing needs from both
tourists and local residents. Not only does heritage tourism play an important role in
the improvement of the local economy and the physical environment, but it also
provides an impulse to enhance place identity after leaving it in poor condition for a
long time. Although the heritage featured in Pingyao is quite selective, it should be a
source of pride for the group of people who live there, and also serve as a mutual
memory among them. However, the development policies of the local government
tend to lead the city towards becoming a tourist city rather than an historic living city.
The attitude that iocal stakeholders have towards heritage tourism affects the
development path of the historic city as well. When the purpose of re-interpreting the
past is tourism-driven, an historic city tends to become a tourist city through
commodification processes. In order to provide a tourist-friendly atmosphere, the
historic city easily becomes a stage in a tourist setting for tourists only. The historic
city/town can serve as a heritage tourism destination and a living town for local
people underpinned with a proper urban conservation only when the purpose of the
interpretation of the cultural heritage is the benefit of both tourists and local residents.

Figure 1.2: Diagram of Research Scenario of Tourist and Historic City
In addition, local government policies relating to urban conservation and tourism
development affect the functions of the traditional anchor elements. The traditional
elements have always served as the cluster centers of the spatial structure. No matter
whether they were religious centers, community centers, retail centers, schools,
government offices, and hospitals in different historical periods, they remain the hubs
of certain social networks with services and retail activities around them. The
transformation of the functions and public accessibility of these traditional elements
is critical for the continued development of the local community in an historic city. In
order for it to retain its socio-cultural attributes, a historic city/town needs to serve the

needs of tourists without sacrificing the needs of the local population; otherwise, it
will become a museum for tourists only.
Significance of the Research
The Ancient City of Pingyao is a walled city with a unique historical townscape. The
enclosed area, architectural integrity and traditional planning have rich cultural value
for the local community, tourists, and people who are interested in the evolution of
traditional Chinese cities. However, its designation as World Heritage Site has been
used as an avenue for the promotion of local officials and participation on global
stage, and the concept of historic preservation in China has thus been used as a tool
for economic development. The cultural continuity of the locals is usually ignored
during the development process.
From the historical view, the significant roles of traditional anchor elements in the
Ancient City of Pingyao through different political periods indicates their potential to
carry local culture into future generations, if the functions of these spaces and
structures are oriented to satisfy the needs of both lourists and local residents. Even
though in contemporary times, traditional anchor elements are tourism resources with
high economic value, they are still landmarks that signify place identity to local
The results of my research will suggest that a living heritage site does not have to be
separated from its cultural continuity or from satisfying the curiosity of the tourist

industry. The purpose behind the interpretation of its history affects the direction of
its urban conservation. The disconnection of local activities from meaningful
traditional anchor elements will cause the discontinuity of local culture and the citys
spatial structure. My approach from the view of heritage development will help
planners, conservationists and governors to set forth conservation policy for historic
cities; it will aid in finding the proper way to develop a historic city into both a
livable place for the local population and a vivid destination for tourists. The result of
this study will influence decision-makers choices in terms of the integrity,
authenticity, and planning of historic towns and cities in developing countries that are
experiencing high demands for tourism development.
Organization of the Research
This dissertation is divided into seven chapters.
Chapter One has given an introduction to the study. In general, it has delineated the
structure of this study on the historical townscape from the perspective of townscape
interpretation and the continuity of local culture. It has focused on the background of
the research and research statement, including a brief description of tourism
development and the existing situation of historic cities in China.
Chapter Two reviews the relevant literature on topics related to this study. It starts
with a brief introduction to the World Heritage program and its impact. The theory of
historical townscapes from the Ccnzenian School indicates the relationship between

urban landscape management arid cultural continuity in an historical context. The
development of heritage tourism and contemporary commodification impacts the
local community. Finally, the theory of staged authenticity in a tourist setting
provides a solid base for talking about heritage tourism in the Ancient City of
Chapter Three explains how the study was conducted. Its discussion includes the
application of research methods and the presentation of data collection and analysis.
Chapter Four provides a general review of Chinese city building and indicates the
roles played by traditional anchor elements in society during two major political
periods, feudal China and socialist China.
Chapter Five explains how tourism development has affected local development in
the Ancient City of Pingyao and how tourism-driven policies have created a dialectic
situation after 100 years of political turbulence. The different purposes of re-
interpreting the past for present needs is discussed from the perspective of local needs
and national needs.
Chapter Six reviews the morphological processes of traditional anchor elements in
different political periods and their significant role in the continuity of local culture.
Particularly, through analytical description of the memories of local residents
discerned through a survey, the social functions that these traditional anchor elements
have carried out in the formulation of spatial structure in the Ancient City of Pingyao
form the focus of the chapter.
Finally, Chapter Seven draws the conclusions from this study and also provides
possibilities for the future study of historic cities.

Scope of Related Literature in This Research
The objects of focus in this study are historic cities in developing and less-developed
countries in Asia, and the case study is the Ancient City of Pingyao in China. Since
the scope of the research on historic cities could possibly include physical, social,
political and economic issues in different stratifications, the scope of the literature
review in this chapter is limited to four major subjects that pertain to this study: the
World Heritage Program; historical townscapes and cultural continuity; heritage
tourism and heritage commodification; and authenticity in tourism.
The first section is an introduction to the World Heritage Program and its
contemporary impact. World Heritage designation plays important role in the cultural
heritage sites in less-developed and developing countries. A brief understanding of
the program will establish a base from which to perceive the potential impacts of
international cultural policy on the local community.
The second section is the study of the historical townscape based on Conzen and his
fellows discussion of urban conservation from the perspective of urban morphology.

Although the physical environment in a historic city like Pingyao does not change
dramatically through time, when there is a change in the hierarchy of regions
(Larkham, 1990, p. 353), the hierarchical shift and its influence on the spatial
environment indeed have significant meaning in townscape management. Thus,
traditional urban morphology analysis on the transformation of the town plan,
building fabric and plot pattern is not completely applicable in the core of the Ancient
City of Pingyao. However, the way that urban morphologists analyze town plans will
be the base of this study when investigating the original city building of Pingyao.
The third section explores heritage tourism and heritage commodification. The
majority of studies regarding historic sites are related to tourism development,
because this is more readily quantifiable and also because it is the dominant economy
in most historic cities. Heritage tourism plays a critical role in communities that rely
on tourism revenue, especially in historic cities in developing and less-developed
countries. However, these communities are likely to experience destructive socio-
cultural impacts because of this type of tourism.
The forth section reviews authenticity in tourism. Since heritage tourism has become
essential to historic cities like the Ancient City of Pingyao, the discussion of
authenticity in tourism has become central to urban conservationists. From Goffman
(1953) and MacCannell (1973) to Cohen (1988), staged authenticity is mentioned as
the starting point from which to discuss authenticity in tourism. The result is
especially fitting in the Ancient City of Pingyao, where the local life and tourist
activities are completely separated because of the implementation of government
policies. Authenticity in sense of place is also the focus when the priority objective
of preserving a historic city is to continue the local way of life. As a result, the way
history is presented connects the contemporary meaning of local history with the
management of historical townscapes and heritage tourism.

Before presenting the major literature review, I need to clarify the definition of
Heritage and its relative aspects in this research.
Definition and Emergence of Heritage
Elements of cultural heritage, according to the Conventions original definition,
include monuments, groups of buildings, and sites (UNESCO, 1972). As time
passed, the definition of heritage has been broadened. It is generally associated with
the word inheritance; that is, something transferred from one generation to another
(Nuryanti, 1996, p. 249) and contain[s] all the signs that document the activities and
achievements of human beings over time (Feilden & Jokilehto, 1998, p. 11). The
more recent and influential definition provide by ICOMOS (1999) includes the
tangible and intangible culture of the past:
Heritage is a broad concept and includes the natural as well as the cultural
environment. It encompasses landscapes, historic places, sites and built
environments, as well as bio-diversity, collections, past and continuing
cultural practices, knowledge and living experiences. It records and expresses
the long processes of historic development, forming the essence of diverse
national, regional, indigenous and local identities and is an integral part of
modem life. It is a dynamic reference point and positive instrument for growth
and change. The particular heritage and collective memory of each locality or
community is irreplaceable and an important foundation for development,
both now and into the future.
The word heritage is usually misunderstood as history in contemporary
discussion, although they are not exactly the same. [Hjeritage and 'history' are

subjective and value-loaded concepts, which are locked into wider frameworks of
dominant and subversive ideologies (Harvey, 2000, p. 48). Without manipulation,
heritage can be seen as the legacy of the past for the future. However, the twist of
history enables the creation of heritage for the purpose of the present. In addition, the
competition in the tourism market among World Heritage sites exaggerates the
vagueness between the meanings of history' and heritage. Authors, like Lowenthal
(1998), claims history and heritage are linked but separate phenomena. History is
for all, heritage [is] for ourselves alone (p. 128). For Urry (2002), [t]here is an
absolute distinction between authentic history (continuing and therefore dangerous)
and heritage (past, dead and safe) (p. 99). In the case of the Ancient City of
Pingyao, the involvement of heritage tourism in the restoration process made
distinguishing the difference between history and heritage more complicated because
of the economic benefits accompanying the tourism development. Heritage is history'
processed through mythology, ideology, nationalism, local pride, romantic ideas or
just plain marketing, into a commodity (Schouten, 1995, p. 21). Thus, the
formulation of heritage is not accidental.
Discussion of the emergence of heritage by scholars in different fields, including city
planning, tourism and leisure development, and business, has concluded that there are
three reasons to facilitate the concept of heritage: 1) to protect the past, 2) to create a
unique identity, and 3) to attract tourists. First, the threat of new urban development
stimulates the idea of protection of the past from being further destroyed. The
concept of heritage has evolved from a concern for the preservation of the chance
surviving relics from the past, but the process of this evolution has led to some
important changes in its orientation (Ashworth, 1994, p. 15). Unfortunately, when
some twisting and manipulation are involved in the conservation process, it leads to
the emergence of heritage designed to satisfy purposes other than preservation.
Second, the political competition to present national identity is also a major factor

that has brought about the discussion of heritage. Post-War re-establishment has
played an important role in the invention of heritage. In order to rebuild national
identity beyond simple physical re-establishment, the dominant power selects the
heritage that will serve as representative history. Usually the high/privileged history
is chosen, and the ordinary/popular cult is ignored. Third, many researchers refer to
heritage as a commodity of the past for the present. This conceptualization explains
the genuine purpose of history and heritage. In Ashworths (1994) words, [h]istory
is the remembered record of the past: heritage is a contemporary commodity
purposefully created to satisfy contemporary consumption (p.16). This is reflected
in the development of heritage tourism after the 1980s, facilitated by the growth of
disposable income and communication technology. Heritage has become a novelty to
middle class travelers who seek to enjoy a more cultural experience than vacational
tourism provides, which is usually just a passing glance at things.
World Heritage Designation and
Its Contemporary Impacts
For most of the historic cities in developing or less-developed countries, designation
as a World Heritage Site is a big event for local communities. It means participation
on the global stage, the recognition of global society, and the upgrade of local pride.
In order to be inscribed, the selection of histories and their interpretation sometimes
have been twisted or manipulated to fit the requirements imposed by the global
competition and to compete in the heritage tourism market.

World Heritage Program
The institutionalizing concept of cultural preservation emerged as early as 1854 with
John Ruskins calling for the organization of historic monuments. Since then,
cultural heritage has always been a major concern when there is the potential for
tremendous damage to an historic site. Conservation of cultural heritage was not
much of an issue until the twentieth century as f i]t was a century of dramatic urban
expansion, improvement, and redefinition, but it was also a century when urban
architectural culture was destroyed at a rate unmatched in human history (Tung,
2001, p. 15). It was also during the twentieth century that many countries and
international institutions spent much effort to remind the world of the importance of
preventing our cultural heritage from damage and loss.
After World W7ar II, the focus of international historic preservation of cultural
heritage had moved from the conceptual idea of protecting historic monuments to the
physical realization of structure restoration and philosophical discussions on cultural
preservation. The establishment of UNESCO in 1947, a division of the United
Nations, was a significant step in institutional development for the protection of
cultural heritage. Since 1947, UNESCO has been an international organization
consistently involved in the preservation of cultural heritage, and has been working
closely with two advisory bodies, the International Centre for the Study of the
Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) founded in 1959, and
the International Council on Monuments and Sites (1COMOS) founded in 1965, to
provide specialist knowledge in conservation and restoration of cultural properties,
especially the application of materials submitted by State parties to inscribe World
Heritage Sites. In order to correspond to the international environmental movement,
UNESCO combined the idea of conservation of cultural heritage initiated by the
United States and similar proposals from the International Union for Conservation of

Nature (IUCN) and declared The Convention Concerning the Protection of World
Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972, subsequently ratified by 20 countries. The
Convention first began operating in 1975. According to its provisions, a World
Heritage Committee and a World Heritage Fund were instituted in 1976. In order to
assure the day-to-day management of the Convention, a World Heritage Center was
set up in 1992 (Cleere, 2000).
The Convention recognizes the importance of world heritage, both cultural and
natural, and defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for
inscription on the World Heritage List4. It promotes the concept of World
Heritage by claiming that parts of the cultural or natural heritage are of outstanding
interest and therefore need to be preserved as part of the world heritage of mankind as
a whole (UNESCO, 1972, p. 1). UNESCOs World Heritage missions are to
encourage countries to sign the Convention and ensure the protection of their own
natural and cultural heritage, and also to encourage States Members to the Convention
to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage
List. The Convention has been accepted by 1.76 states. In 1978, according to the
Convention, the World Heritage Committee started by first designating groups of
World Heritage Sites from around the world, such as the rock-hewn churches in
Lalibela in Ethiopia, the Island of Gore in Senegal, and Mesa Verde and Yellowstone
in the United States. As of 2007, 830 properties were inscribed on the World
Heritage List; among them, 644 are cultural, 162 are natural and 24 are mixed
properties in 138 State Parties.
China ratified the Convention in 1985. Since then, China has inscribed 35 cultural
and natural heritage sites on the World Heritage List, and the number is increasing.
4 Webpage'

Among these sites, 25 are cultural, 6 are natural, and 4 are mixed. The Ancient City
of Pingyao is one of the cultural sites.
Impact from World Heritage Designation
Cultural heritage is a relatively new concept in world history, especially in Asia. Its
introduction accompanied the ideology of modernity and the concern for the past of
human history. The original concept of World Heritage designation was to protect
heritage with great cultural and natural value. However, the meaning of World
Heritage has been ignored, twisted or replaced because of the potential benefits from
the designation of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Today, the inscription of sites
on the World Heritage List, an influential product of the involvement of international
institutions, has become the symbol of recognition by international society for many
less-developed countries. Although an honorable plaque does bring substantial aid to
the preservation of natural and cultural heritage, it also likely damages the national
and the socio-cultural essence of local communities in some ways.
Research done by previous scholars shows that there are a variety of complex impacts
from World Heritage designation, such as economic development, identity and
sovereignty, presentation of history, and ethnic conflict between groups, just to name
a few. In my research, I will only investigate the socio-cultural impacts of tourism
development on local communities that a UNESCO designation has generated.

From Cultural Heritage to Heritage Tourism
Among the impacts brought by the designation of World Heritage, the development
of heritage tourism is the most critical. According to post-modern scholars, economic
development is the major reason for the rise of heritage as just another aspect of a
burgeoning leisure industry (Harvey, 2001, p.324). The potential for increase in
gross domestic product (GDP) is an important motivator for countries to encourage
visits by tourists from overseas, and innovations in information technology have
expanded the communication system that has contributed to the development of the
global tourism industry. Because the immediate and tangible economic results of
developing cultural heritage come faster than from other industries, many historical
cities have treated UNESCOs World Heritage Site designation as a means of
economic recovery. The promotion of historic sites in China and the Cultural
Heritage Route in Europe are examples.
The tourism industry offers people the chance to experience different cultures.
However, cultural heritage itself can not be valued and can not be traded and yet it is
precisely these values that are exploited with economic development strategies
(Graham et al., 2000). When cultural heritage becomes an object to be experienced, it
can be marketed like a common product. The heritage industry is a major
commercial activity, ....,which is based on selling goods and services with a heritage
component (Tunbridge & Ashworth, 1996, p. 2). It promotes a vicarious
experience that depends on using objects or locations as means of entering into or
living in the past (Edson, 2004, p. 337).
Since the Convention inadvertently brought national cultural heritage to the global
level, the revealing of national cultural heritage to the whole world has made the
feasibility of a tourism-dependent economy possible. As Evans notes, [tjhe
designation and the institutionalization of world heritage sites and monuments

transform their role as both economic and symboiic capital assets with the complex
inter-relationship between conservation and visitation that WHS status implies
(Evans, 2005, p. 36). By this transformative process, cultural heritage has become a
commodity for consumption and a place conducive to commerce.
The increase of tourism does help to improve the income of local peoples and
national revenue. However, for those sites that maintain their original functions,
touring crowds will likely change the daily life of local people.
From Local to Global
Once places are inscribed on the World Heritage List, they are honored as World
Heritage Sites belonging] to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory
on which they are located.5 These places should be preserved as pan of the world
heritage of mankind as a whole and the international community should participate in
the protection of that heritage 1'hat means some heritage sites with significance have
been elevated to the world stage, and are no longer just a source of pride for locals.
As T'urtinen (2002) notes [a]s status symbols, World Heritage sites are, for varies
reasons, highly desired symbolic capital locally, nationally and internationally (p. 3).
The UNESCO designation of World Heritage Sites has indeed changed cultural
heritage sites into places of common heritage, safeguarded by international
organizations. This echoes the ideas of the Venice Charter, which emphasizes the
common responsibility for a common heritage and includes vague language
about the unity of human values (ICOMOS, 1994). Although the sovereignty and
the ownership of a designated site has not changed, the meaning of the place has been
5 Webpage:

transformed from a local/national level to the transnational/global level. The
responsibility to protect the site becomes shared by the entire world, as does the
unique history of the site. As a result, it builds up a pre-state entity (Hitchcock.
2002, p. 153) with standardizing and regulating processes and measures, which
facilitates the idea of an imagined political community (Anderson, 1991, p. 6).
History consists of events in the past that are transformed into todays culture and
tradition. Each countrys unique culture creates its own local identity and national
image. This makes countries different from one another. The concept of preserv ing
cultural heritage is to continue this history into the future while maintaining the
historical meaning of places. To the local people, those sites were first part of their
own local history and daily life; Worid Heritage Site designation means the place will
suddenly become famous around the world. The change in identity from local to
global indeed has a profound influence on the nation-state, and designations based on
unified criteria risks bringing cultural homogeneity to the entire world. The issue of
cultural homogeneity has affected local identity and has gradually changed the
original meaning of cultural heritage. The attention now paid to heritage sites,
monuments, and patrimony has transformed this cultural aspect of late 20th century
society from that of benign, specialist and parochial concern to one of international
focus, trade and debate (Evans, 2005, p. 36). The designation of World Heritage
Sites has ramifications beyond national boundaries and extends to the level of world-
From Dynamic to Being Created
Culture is a process of evolution and an accumulation of life experience, and it should
be cultivated dynamically. Since a place on the World Heritage List is highly

competitive, the question of who can be on the list? proves a strong test of wills
between different countries. As a result, some nations will manipulate, prettily and
even manufacture a selective history iti-order to be on the list. Many studies (e.g.,
Anderson, 1991; Hobsbawm & Ranger, 1992) argue that world heritage is an
invention with socially constructed meaning. Similarly, Lowenthal (1985)
demonstrates that portrayals of the past are important in the formation and
reformation of the present. Since the process of designating World Heritage Sites
involves interpretation and representation, the authenticity and the meaning of the
sites are sometimes reconstructed in the contest.
Once a site is on the list, its nation has to maintain the sites historical integrity to
prevent further destruction that would erode the sites value as a World Heritage Site.
Thus, the-history of the site becomes frozen. Adams (2003) calls such a places fixed
heritage sites and also claims that the transformation of dynamic places ... is not a
natural process but rather a political process (p. 93). Examples of fixed heritage
sites include Old Town Lijing in China, Kete Kesu village in South Sulawesi, and the
Zanzibar Stone Town in Tanzania. Similar issues of place transformation have also
happened in Quebec, Canada, where the term heritage has become a problematic
notion located in the dialectic of the universal and the particular (Evans, 2002,
Regardless of the benefits that the inscription as a World Heritage Site will bring to a
nation, the designation usually means sacrificing certain fundamentals of local
community character* and indirectly stops the natural process of the sites historical
continuity. Local communities should consider the potential socio-culturai impacts in
advance to prevent further destruction.

Since the initiation of the mechanism of world heritage designation by UNESCO in
1972, many historic sites with outstanding value have been successfully safeguarded,
especially sites in developing and less-developed countries. In addition to
successfully protecting their historic legacy from disappearing, the economic benefits
and world-wide reputation that accompany the World Heritage designation are the
major motivations for achieving the designation nomination among historic sites, and
the Ancient City of Pingyao is a typical example. However, in the competition
against other sites to earn a place on the list, cities invent, manipulate, and twist their
historic interpretations and thus affect the authenticity of the place. To the Ancient
City of Pingyao, cultural heritage became equal to economic potential in the eyes of
the local government and local community after it was inscribed on the list. The
resulting local and global shifting brought the Ancient City of Pingyao, a dynamic
living city, from being an unknown, county-level small town to being a renown
World Heritage Site. In addition to invisible socio-culturai impacts from the booming
development, the historic town has developed into a tourism-dependent destination
and the ancient walled city is now facing the challenge of modern development for
tourist and local needs.

Historical Townscapes and Cultural Continuity
A Morphological Approach from Conzeitian Research
Historic cities are the accumulation of interaction between humans and the land they
live on. This interaction between people and space is continual; thus, a historical
townscape can not be seen as static; on the contrary, it is an evolutionary and organic
process which includes social, economic and cultural aspects intertwining in a built
environment. People shape the space according to the needs of their society in time;
eventually this creates the genius loci of a historical townscape.
Consequently, urban morphologists treat a city as an ecological system that changes
and transforms through time. In particular, the German geographer Conzens
approach of using urban morphology to understand the development of urban form is
relevant to this research on the historical environment of the Ancient City of Pingyao.
In Conzens research, the townscape is investigated with four approaches from the
perspective of morphology (Conzen, 1981a). These indicate that the attributes of a
historical townscape are the result of the interaction between people and systems in
the society, and the development of form and materials.
First, towns represent discrete spatial integrations of a variety offerees and
factors in nature and human society. They are thus open functional systems in
space, albeit orientated towards, and dominated by, the needs of human
society as these develop and change through time.
Secondly, though essentially spatial phenomena to the geographer, towns exist
also in time, involving continuity and change within the whole context of
open systems in the four-dimensional continuum of the geosphere.
Thirdly, representing individualized spatial systems within the geosphere,
towns carry uniqueness as one of their basic attributes

Last but not least, towns possess material form.,..they present a distinctive
kind of cultural landscape, the urban landscape or townscape. (p. 77)
In the case of the Ancient City of Pingyao, the physical environment did not change
dramatically after the height of the Jin Merchant Culture. However, the original city
building established a solid base for its later development, and the political and social
changes indeed affected its cultural transformation and continuity. Conzens theory
helps to formulate a way to look at the historical process of the walled city from
different aspects.
Conzens early works indicate that social issues play important roles in the formation
of townscapes. The center of Conzens concept of historical townscapes is the
evolution of the interaction between function and form. He notes that the creation of
a townscape was originally purpose-oriented. The townscape that has continued to
the present day is the accumulation of man-made forms and their functional
interaction with society. Eventually, the changes made in different periods will
produce an increased density in the distribution of man-made forms in historical
townscapes. The evolution of these interactions creates the unique identity of the
townscape. Other than accumulation, he also emphasizes that townscapes change
through the transformation of already existing forms, which represents functional
adaptation to changing needs (Conzen, 1981b, p. 57). Thus, that change comes from
the reflection of different social context in time. Finally, change may result from
replacement, which may happen when the forms can no longer satisfy the functional
interaction with society as it evolves.
The most progressive contribution Conzen has made toward urban morphology is to
divide urban landscape into three basic form complexities: town plan, pattern of
building form and pattern of urban land use (Conzen, 1960). Among them, town plan
and building form reflect the pattern of past landownership and capital investment

and the land utilization pattern is related to changing functional requirements
(C'onzen, 1968; Larkham, 1990). A historical townscape is a complex social system
with political, economic, and cultural aspects, evolving from systematic formation
and social order. In Conzens research, the factor of time plays an influential role
in the formulation of historical townscapes today, underpinned by the diversity of
morphological processes. The entirety of the townscape reveals the evolutionary
outcome of the society. Due to different time frames and development processes in
societies, morphological regions were thus formulated by these three form
complexities, which leads to the existence of the town as a spatially defined social
complex (Conzen, 1981a, p. 80) A similar statement by Kupke (1997) reveals the
relationship between time and places: [c]ity character involves people, their cultural
context and their relationship with places in terms of past and present (p. 75).
Because of different degrees and timing of interaction, the morphological
combination of the three form complexities creates a hierarchy of regions (Larkham,
In Conzens study of form complexity, he indicates the importance of land utilization
patterns, for they reveal the needs of the society at the time and their role in the
development of the society. Unfortunately, he did not publish a clear explanation of
how he perceives these two elements to work together and how this hierarchy of
regions is constructed (Larkham, 1990), and neither did his morphological fellows.
In addition, research done by Harvey, Gospcndini and Edson (2004) has widely
discussed the relationship of time and spaces (Gospodini, 2001; Harvey, 2001), but
they barely touch the issue of how the formal hierarchy within a given time period is

Conservation of Historical Townscape
A historic context could be perceived ak an environment that integrates human history
with buildings history. Also, old buildings, social character and spatial structure are
important to the construction of urban fabric for their subtle intrinsic value. Historic
cities are places with a soul a genius loci. They are places of cultural identity and
achievement. They are places where human cultural traditions have evolved over
time and are in a constant state of evolution (Rodwell, 2003, p. 59).
Urban conservation involves the physical, spatial and social context, and is a place-
specific process of the protection and management of cultural heritage and places.
No conservation case is the same, and the experience from one city cannot be directly
applied to another. Part of the purpose of preserv ing a city is to keep its meaning of
place through time. Layer upon layer of evolving cultural traditions provoked
significant urban change over the centuries. It is this quality...that needs to be
conserved and allowed to grow (Nasser, 2003a, p.86).
In addition to mapping the morphological process of the city, Conzen also
demonstrates how the morphological study of urban townscape can contribute to
urban conservation through his 1958 project, A Survey of Whitby. Conzen sees a
townscape as a stage where successive societies work out their lives, each society
learning from, and working to some extent within the framework provided by, the
experiments of its predecessors (Whitehand, 1987, p. 268). Thus, he states that
jajdequate townscape management, including conservation and development, is
therefore an important social task of spatial planning (Conzen, 1981a, p. 75).
Instead of merely speaking of preservation, he suggests using the term landscape
management as being less suggestive of restriction to physical preservation of
particular and in a sense isolated landscape elements (Conzen, 1981b, p. 59). To
him, urban conservation means the protection of man-made forms accumulated from

previous civilizations, thus prime consideration should be given to the townscape as
the objectivication of the spirit of a society, viewed not at a moment in time but as a
historical phenomenon (Whitehand, 1987, p. 269).
From the historical point of view, a historic city is the place to connect the present
and the past. Conzen addresses the connection between historical townscapes and
urban conservation (in Conzens term, landscape management) and how a detailed
elucidation of a towns morphological development can form the basis for townscape
conservation (Whitehand, 1981, p. 11). The three form complexities identified by
Conzen, town plan, building fabric, and land utilization, provide a base from which to
start conversation among geographers, planners, urban designers, and
preservationists. However, his ideas on urban conservation have had comparatively
less impact (Slater, 1984; Whitehand, 1990) than the later research done by his
fellows, such as Whitehand (1990), Slater (1997), and Larkham (1990), to name a
few. Nevertheless, these later studies by urban morphologists pay more attention to
how new developments conflict with traditional form and plan from the perspective
of the decision-making process.
In historic cities, the spectacular symbolic environment of old principles of situation
and orientation of buildings, materials, techniques, proportions and volumes could
inspire (Laenen, 1989, p. 94) architects, planners and preservationists to do more
than [communicate] information about the past to people (Al-Zoabi, 2004, p. 254).
Due to an over-emphasis on visual aesthetics, most studies on urban conservation fall
into the trap of objectification of the spirit, focusing, for example, on physical
elements including the street system, plot pattern, and building arrangement.
However, Karimi (2000) argues that the preservation of the urban fabric, rather than
merely individual buildings, is critical for maintaining the importance of the
traditional urban elements in a historical townscape and the spatial structure they have
created through time. The results from his research show historic cores w'ith well-

preserved traditional patterns easily keep their spatial rule spatial spirit" (Karimi,
2000, p- 222) and maintain the relationship between spatial components of the urban
system. In addition, traditional urban elements and the spatial structure are the key
components to preserve the traditional relationship and hierarchies.
Cultural Sustainability in a Historical Urban Context
[CJultural diversity provides a way to evaluate cultural and social
sustainability (Low, 2001, p. 50).
The 1987 Brundtland Report indicated that sustainable development is development
that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987). Since then, the concept of
sustainable development or sustainability has been used in different fields at various
scales. A historic city is similar to a natural matrix holding significant history and
cultural legacy, including tangible and intangible culture. It is the richness of its
culture which makes a city attractive and imperishable. One can draw a parallel
between naturally sustainable developmentwhich requires the input of economists
and sociologists, as well as environmentalistsand culturally sustainable
development, which in historic cities involves human affairs and social issues in
addition to historically accurate and aesthetically sensitive physical development
Rapoport sees culture as a way of life typical of a group, a particular way of doing
things... culture may be said to be about a group of people who have a set of values
and beliefs which embody ideals and are transmitted to members of the group through
enculturation (Rapoport, 1984, p. 50-1). Williams (1976) sees culture as a
particular way of life, which also expresses certain meanings and values not only in
art and learning, but in institutional and ordinary behavior (p. 81). On the other hand.

anthropologists see culture as an integrated system of meanings by means of which
the nature of reality is established and maintained (Greenwood, 1977, p. 131).
Based on these definitions, culture cah be broadly expressed as daily life in social
Cultural diversity and continuity are essential parts of culturally sustainable
development. A sustainable culture is one that undergoes an evolutionary growth that
is underpinned by a collective social structure. Thus, a sustainable culture is not only
a matter of the past, but is also a matter of the future, in a historic urban context, the
physical setting generates the uniqueness of a place, and the activities in this physical
'S'- -
setting enrich its cultural value. The goal of sustainable planning in the historic
context, therefore, is to create a more livable environment and to sustain the local
culture. This notion further confirms the idea that sense of place, spatial spirit, or
genius locr is the integration of local daily life and the physical setting where the
daily activities happen.
The conservation of both physical and socic-cultural content is the goal of sustainable
planning for historic cities. Changes in urban fabric-the demands of modernization,
often calling for adaptive reuse of spaces and structures- are inevitable in a historic
environment, and they need to be well managed. Suitable adjustment of the use of
buildings is in fact needed to allow cultural continuity, and it is these changes that
bring cultural diversity to the people in a society. Changes in the morphology of the
place, in the physical structures, in the functional patterns, and in the use of public all
contribute to this transformation process (Nasser, 2003b, p. 472).
Authors like Nasser (2003a) and Rodwell (2003) both mention the important role that
traditional architectures play in cultural construction and the responsibility that
traditional architectures have in continuing local culture. Rodwell indicates the
identity of a historic city is revealed by the evolution of its physical heritage and its

human culture, and [i]t does not seek to fossilize either the tangible or the intangible
culture. It anticipates continuity and works with it (Rodwell, 2003, p. 68). This
statement echoes Nassers idea that (Nasser, 2003a)
[I]n order for cities to be sustainable, we will have to rely in great measure on
the knowledge and wisdom imbued in their cultural heritage, whether it is
using traditional architecture and city form, or using established social and
philosophical mechanisms dealing with change and decision-making (p. 75-6).
Research resulting from Rodwell and Nasser echoes the concept of hierarchy regions
in Conzens study and the hierarchy of traditional urban elements in Karimis
conclusion. It!
The literature review on morphological research and urban conservation indicates that
a sustainable urban conservation plan includes physical, spatial and social aspects of
the historic settlement. Although the study of contemporary urban morphology,
which emphasizes the physical environment through time, cannot completely apply to
a static settlement like the Ancient City of Pingyao, Conzens pioneering research
provides a solid base from which to investigate the city building process of the walled
city with a special emphasis on the interaction of land utilization patterns and social
and political change through timeaspects usually neglected by most morphologists.
The stability of the physical environment of the walled city implies the completion of
the historic landscape, while the citys spatial and social contexts become the basis
for considering the cultural sustainability of the urban conservation of the walled city.
Furthermore, Karimis findings on the role of anchor elements in the historic
settlement echoes Nasser (2003a) and Rodwells (2003) emphasis on the importance

of anchor elements for carrying the local culture into future generations Finally,
these research findings support the valuable discussion on the mapping of hierarchical
regions in Chinese city building. Investigating the impact of land utilization changes
by anchor elements through time will further facilitate holistic and sustainable urban
landscape management of the walled city.
Heritage Tourism and Cultural Commodification
In addition to social, cultural and physical impacts, one of the major discussions
among scholars of heritage studies is the fast growing tourism development that has
accompanied World Heritage designation of the Ancient City of Pingyao since the
1980s, especially focusing on its local and national level economic impacts.
Aithough some scholars do not recognize heritage tourism to be a unique category
in tourism studies, the research findings pertaining to cultural commodification
prevail from anthropological, sociological, and tourism perspectives.
Heritage for Economic Purpose
Scholars define heritage tourism m different ways. Fyall and Garrod (1998) see
heritage tourism as an economic activity that makes use of socio-culturai assets to
attract visitors (Fyail & Garrod, 1998). Poria et al. (2001) define heritage tourism
more narrowly as a phenomenon based on visitors motivations and perceptions

rather than on specific site attributes (p. 1047). Swarbrooke (1994) defines heritage
tourism as tourism which is based on heritage, where heritage is the core of the
product that is offered, and heritage is the main motivating factor for the consumer
(p. 222).
Heritage tourism is not new. From the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries, the idea of
the Grand Tour was popular among the English elite who would experience cultural
antiquity and ancient art by traveling to the historic destinations of Venice, Rome and
Florence. However, it was not an economically-oriented activity. Today, heritage
tourism is categorized as one subset of the tourism discourse. It is also claimed as the
product of post-modernisms focus on cultural consumption and commodification.
Economic forces from global development have promoted the development of
heritage tourism; however, the phenomenon of global culture has homogenized the
pattern of consumption. The development of a global economy and the increase of
national wealth has enabled more people to travel overseas, and has also contributed
to the rise of heritage as just another aspect of a burgeoning leisure industry
(Harvey, 2001, p. 324). Heritage tourism has been industrialized through
globalization, largely the response of the leisure industry to public demand (Light,
1995, p. 123). UNESCOs emphasis on the importance of heritage in the 1972
Convention unconsciously brought national cultural heritage to the global level and
made heritage tourism attractive and economically viable (Shackley, 1998). A
significant recognition of this use of heritage was indicated by the collaboration of
UNESCO and the World Trade Organization (WTO), which reflects the acceptance
that heritage conservation, tourism and economic regeneration are mutually
supportive and viable strategies for development (Evans, 2005, p. 38). The
outstanding value of the World Heritage Site plaque has accelerated the process of the
economic convergence of heritage and tourism.

Economic issues usually play a critical role in heritage tourism for developing and
less-developed countries. If the conserv ation of a place is based on tourists needs, it
eventually will change the character of the historical context in subtle and not-so-
subtle ways. Commodification thus can have a dramatic influence on the urban
landscape itself (Brian Graham, 2002).
Cultural Commodification
The convergence of heritage and tourism has brought tourism development into a
different era and has enabled the trading of culture for economic power because of the
high profile of cultural capital.
Many old cities, especially historic cities in developing and less-developed countries,
treat the tourism generated by designation as World Heritage Site as penicillin to cure
what ails their economy. Designation as a World Heritage Site brings local cultural
significance onto a global stage. Through a transformative process, when cultural
heritage becomes an object to be experienced, it becomes a commodity product, and
finally becomes part of the heritage industry. The heritage industry is a major
commercial activity which is based on selling goods and services with a heritage
component (Tunbridge & Ashworth, 1996, p. 2).
Post-modernists claim that the emergence of capitalism contributed to the
development of heritage tourism. Mass production and communication technology
changed the pattern of consumption and created a different view of life and leisure,
tourism development is one of the most obvious examples of this. The recent shift of
vacation style from the sun-and-sea holiday to the personal and cultural experience
mirrors the shift of the tourism industry from product-driven to consumer-driven

(Apostolakis, 2003). Accordingly, all destinations are in competition in a
consumption-driven tourism market, and the process of commodification plays a
decisive role in adapting a place's tangible heritage into commercial usage. Cultural
heritage has thus become a product for consumption or a place for selling.
The commodification of a place's cultural heritage can affect its cultural identity,
history, and physical environment. First, as Cohen (1988) argues,
[cjommoditization is a process by which things (and activities) come to be
evaluated primarily in terms of their exchange value, in a context of trade, thereby
becoming goods (and services) (p. 380). During this trading process, the
authenticity of local culture may possibly be transformed or reconstructed.
Greenwood, who conducted one of the first studies on the commodification of culture
through tourism, is echoed by Cohen (1988) who ruefully expresses the situation, that
[tjourist-oriented products frequently acquire new meanings for the locals, as they
become a diacritical mark of their ethnic or cultural identity, a vehicle of self-
representation before an external public (p. 382). In order to attract more tourists,
the destination areas of tourism are conscious constructions of images to be sold,
involving a selection of elements to be displayed for sale (Lask & Herold, 2005, p.
120). At the same time the locals try to please and attract more tourists, they also risk
the biggest threat of commodification: the reconstruction of the original meaning of
their culture (Greenwood, 1977). Instead, its meaning becomes a product that fits
tourists expectations.
Additionally, in order to satisfy the needs .of tourism development and to compete
with other tourist destinations, places undergo a process of content selection
(Ashworth, 1994, p. 24) from a wide range of historic pasts. This approach to history
might eventually become a manipulative one that is restricted by the choice, fashion,
and taste of international organizations involved in the marketing of the heritage
product, and the consumers (Nasser, 2003b, p. 472). In other words, although a

heritage designation provides both the city and nation with a convenient way to
improve economic difficulty, the hidden danger of heritage designation is that it may
only be recognizing selective attributes. Like Ashworth (1994) says: [i]t is not the
existence of this disinheritance, but the failure to recognize it that presents problems
Finally, commodification not only influences the local culture and its history, but also
the physical environment. Tourism development gives the majority of demanding
tourists traveling to destinations a preconceived mindset. Places become places of
consumption (Meethan, 1996, p. 323), investment targets that are created for trade of
services and goods. This commodification process does not only change the value of
a place, but also affects the activities that happen within a place. These two factors
are usually intertwined, as the symbolic meanings of places have been changed in
response to the emergence of tourist activities. As Sack (1992) states, heritage
places are places of consumption and are arranged and managed to encourage
consumption; such consumption can create places, but is also place-altering (quoted
in Graham, 2002, p. 1006-7).
Socio-cultural Impacts of Tourism Development
on Host Communities
Research into the socio-cultural impact of tourism development on local communities
has often been neglected due to difficulties in quantifying it. The economic impacts
have become the center of tourism research as these were more quantifiable and often
positive (Glasson et al., 1995). However, the goal of tourism development should be
to achieve outcomes that best balance benefits and costs for all stakeholders,
particularly residents, tourists, and ihe industry (Haley et al., 2005, p. 652). The

impact of tourism is not necessarily negative. Indeed, tourism has produced both
positive and negative influence on local communities, and its socio-cuitural impact in
any given community has widely varied.
The impacts vary depending on the socio-cuitural structure of the country and the
level of touristic development (Dogan, 1989, p. 217), as well as on local economic
factors (Haralambopoulos & Pizam, 1996). Generally, the patterns of interaction
between the hosts and guests determine the level of impact. When compared with the
impacts of tourism on cities in Western countries, tourism impacts on social and
cultural issues in host cities in developing and less-developed countries tend to be
more destructive, fundamental, and irreversible. In general, people in developing and
less-developed countries have less confidence in their own culture and also have less
ability to protect their tradition from negative acculturation. It is easier to give up
their traditions.
Tourism can be seen as the catalyst for economic development at local and national
scales Tourism development can bring job opportunities, economic growth,
environmental improvements, and life quality improvements. However, the most
destructive impacts of tourism have happened m places where the communities are
economically reliant on tourism development, for these host communities may accept
it without any resistance or skepticism. As the destination community receives
tourists by providing services, the community becomes the receiver (passive) and
tourism the outsider (active). Thus, the destination communities open themselves
to increasingly negative impacts from tourism.
As tourists become part of making a living (de Kadt, 1979, p. 61), they impact the
local community's social and cultural spheres beyond the economic domain. In order
to satisfy the needs of tourists, local communities have a tendency to trade the
traditional significance of the elements of their culture for economic benefit. Murphy

(1985) and Glasson et al. (1995) share similar concerns that residents day-to-day
quality of life is impacted in tourist destinations. These kinds of impacts create
immediate changes in the social structure of the community and alter the destinations
economy and industry. The cultural impacts of tourism can result in longer-term
changes in a societys norms and standards; these changes will gradually emerge in
the communitys social relationships and artifacts and may include alterations in
traditional ideas, values, norms and identities
Because of the high profile of cultural capital, many historic cities in developing and
less-developed countries give priority to tourism and ignore other development needs
in the city, such as agriculture and industry. Eventually, the host community may
lose the enthusiasm to produce the culture that is meaningful to local communities
(Greenwood, 1977). The homogenous culture that replaces it is a pari of the global
culture, known as the imagined political community (Anderson, 1991, p. 6), elite
club (Hoffman, 1993, p. 52) or common heritage (ICOMOS, 1994) in the field of
heritage study.
In addition to the homogenization of local-level culture, political power and wealth
among groups in the host community are redistributed when the costs and benefits of
tourism are not evenly distributed within the local population. The less-privileged
groups that are negatively affected become hostile and resentful toward the newly
developing elites (Lundberg 1976, quoted in Dogan, 1989, p. 226), may react to the
change brought by tourism development with indifference and eventually stop
participating in the community. Dogan (1989) further explains that the situation has
introduced commercialization and materialism in human relationships, which is
perhaps one of the most common consequences of tourism (p.218). Tourism can
thus transform the social system and its stratification within host communities by
creating new social strata, particularly urban middle classes (Greenwood, 1977; de
Kadt, 1979; Haralambopoulos & Pizam, 1996).

To protect the historical context in developing and less-developed countries, it is
critical to reduce the impact of tourism development on the socio-cultural
environment; it is important to make Stlre the tourism development is economically
viable, environmentally sensitive, and culturally appropriate (Nasser, 2003b, p. 474).
All stakeholders need to participate in the decision-making process in order to
cultivate a consensus on the limits of cultural resources and their capacity. This
consensus can prevent any development that increases the gap between rich and poor
and ... encourage development that reduces inequality (Blowers, 1993, p. 7).
Given its high-profile cultural capital, the Ancient City of Pingyao regained its
economic ability through tourism development after the decline of the Jin Merchants
in the late imperial period. The literature review in this section suggests that the
popularity of heritage tourism is a result of the phenomena of global culture and
economy. However, the phenomenon of cultural commodification only becomes the
case when the major activities in the venue are geared toward to tourists satisfaction
through selective processes. The social and cultural impacts from heritage tourism
are hard to perceive in the short term. This notion is reflected clearly in China,
especially where economic development takes precedence among other types of
development. Dogans (1987) concern reflects the situation in China now, and de
Kadts (1979) research states the situation that the Ancient City of Pingyao is
encountering now. In order to attract more tourists and compete with other
destinations, the local communities must yield local needs. As the result, tourism
development can indeed bring socio-cultura! damage to local communities and
threaten their socio-cultural sustainability.

Authenticity in Heritage Tourism
The definition of authenticity has changed over time, and is dependent upon the
puiposes and perspectives of the argument in which it used Since the objects of this
study are historical urban settlements rather than individual structures, the integrity of
the physical environment is the major emphasis when talking about authenticity in
this research. Thus, whether the physical environment is authentic or not depends on
the communal recognition between interpreters and viewers of the society in time.
As opposed to the existential authenticity espoused by drilling (1972) and
Greenwood (1977), authenticity in my research is perceived to be a kind of socially
constructed value that is negotiated by a society for the purposes of the time, and is
expressed according to the societys attributes through a transformation process
(MacCannell, 1973; Cohen, 1988; Wang, 1999). The socially constructed
authenticity is, therefore, defined by the dominant power in the societythe assessor
of the heritage structure (Ehrentraut, 1993).
Since MacCannell (1973) embarked on the discourse of authenticity in tourism
settings, debate over the modem value of authenticity has centered on its relations
with heritage tourism. His inception of the theory of staged authenticity
(MacCannell, 1973) and Cohens contemporaneous study on tourism in sociology
(Cohen, 1979) provided a connection between tourism research and social behavior
. i
In their research, social space is found to be separated between front and back
stages in order to satisfy the curiosity of modern tourists (Gcffrnan, 1959;
MacCannell, 1973), since most tourists look for nostalgia and pursue authenticity

based on either their experiences or the settings offered by professionals. The front
stage is designed to satisfy the tourists desire for an authentic experience, and the
back stage is the place for local Residents to rest and to prepare between
The broad discussion of the meiging of modernity and tourism in the 1980s defines
authenticity in modem society as a relative product that fulfills societys need to
rebuild social coherence. Cohen (1988) follows MacCannells study on staged
authenticity and concludes with the concept of socially constructed authenticity"
(p.374). When the debate about authenticity involves tourism development, the
notion of socially constructed authenticity becomes central. Authors like Lowenthal
(1985), Hobsbawm and Ranger (1992), and Harvey (2001), who criticize the
invention and reinterpretation of the past for present needs, bridge the modem value
of authenticity and the unity of social existence (Cohen, 1988). Authenticity in
tourism is formulated according to ihe need, power, or expectation of toured objects
(Wang, 1999, p. 351). This situation is evident in the World Heritage sites.
The designation of World Heritage Sites and the involvement of political and
institutional powers tend to manufacture the maimer of the socially constructed
authenticity, especially when heritage tourism is involved. Wang (1999) claims that
[tlhings appear authentic not because they are inherently authentic but because they
are constructed as such in terms of points of view, beliefs, perspectives, or powers
(p,351). The manner of negotiation of the meaning of authenticity (Cohen, 1988) is a
key factor in the consuming of cultural heritage by the tourism market. The process
of cultural commodification creates an economic fringe product that mainly fulfills
the curiosity of tourists. This notion of authenticity is thus affected by the tourism
market, and it also reflects how the general public perceives its history. In other
words, heritage cannot exist without a consumer, and heritage as well as authenticity

are consumer-defined; thus, the consumer authenticates the resource (Ashworth,
1994; Nasser, 2003a).
Authenticity and the Sense of Place
Place and sense o f place
The definition of place is vague, and is dependent upon personal experience and
interpretation. Authors (Proshansky et itl., 1983; Relph, 1976; Tuan, 1980) believe
that the primary function of place is to engender a sense of belonging and attachment.
The majority of writing about place focuses on the realm of meaning and experience
(Cresswell, 2004).
Relph (1976) characterizes place as consisting of three components--a static
physical setting, activities, and meanings-chat are interdependent, bringing together
the physical, social, and cultural dimensions of any place. Similarly, Canter (1977)
suggests [p|lace ... results from the relationship between actions, conceptions and
physical attributes (quoted in Gustafson, 2001, p. 6). Furthermore, Agnew (1987)
states that three essential elements compose a place: location, locale, and sense of
place. In addition, he states the importance of social processes on creating
meaningful places, which emerge in and through social relations (Agnew, 1987).
Through transformation, Gustafson t2001) emphasizes that places are continually
produced and reproduced in interaction with their surroundings and thus may acquire
new meanings over a period of time (p. 6). As a result, places are not static.
Further, places underpinned by their historical meaning shape and inform the
complex genesis of settlement (Nasser, 2003a, p. 77). Based on these statements,
the meaning of a place cannot exist without the support of a strong social context and

a well-organized physical environment. All of these attributes of the socio-cultural
matrix give individuals a sense of place, a 'subjective territorial identity (Agnew,
1987, p. 28).
The concept of sense of place has been used by geographers, architects, urban
designers, and planners pervasively, and is often confused with terms like place
identity (Proshansky et al., 1983), place attachment (Low & Altman, 1992), and
community attachment (Hummon, 1992). Many authors have tried to define the
sense of place. It can be a relational place concept where undifferentiated space
becomes place as we endow it with value (Tuan, 1977, p. 6), or peoples subjective
perceptions of their environments and their more or less conscious feelings about
those environments (Steele, 1981), the local structure of feeling (Williams, 1977,
quoted in Agnew, 1987, p. 27), a conceptualization that facilitates the systematic
characterization of peoples feelings and beliefs about their place of residence
(Hummon, 1992, p. 253-4), or a notion that addresses the emotional, symbolic 2nd
spiritual aspects of places (Kaltenbom, 1998, p. 172). In the broad scale, sense of
place is generally considered a highly self-conscious act of creating meaning in urban
landscape (Arefi, 1999, p. 184). Therefore, sense of place is inevitably dual in
nature, involving both an interpretive perspective on the environment and an
emotional reaction to the environment (Hummon, 1992, p. 262).
A locations unique sense of place cannot be built or reproduced within one day, and
is subject to change every day. A person has to reside in a place for a period of time
to develop a sense of place, since physical and emotional attachment to a place is an
essentia! element in retaining the sense of place. Arefi (1999) investigates several
cases and concludes that the construction of sense of place experiences at least two
transformations: from an unconscious (rootedness) to a conscious stage (sense of
place); and from a conscious to a manufactured stage (manufactured meaning) (p.

183). His theory fits the scope of tourism development, which results from staged
authenticity, commodification and sense of place in manufac tured meaning.
First, the geographer Relph (1976) claims that an authentic attitude towards place
starts from unselfconscious sense of place (p. 65). This concept is similar to Tuans
rootedness (1977, p. 153), which he defines as an unselfconscious, unreflcctively
secure and comfortable state of being in a locality (Tuan, 1980, p. 4). In this
unselfconscious stage, daily life focuses on survival amidst a poor social and physical
Next follows the conscious stage, which involves a self-conscious sense of place
(Relph 1976, p. 66). At this point, people start to judge and experience the
environment, and look forward to quality of life in terms of function, aesthetics, and
well-being. Gauldie (1969) and Relph (1976) share the idea that somewhere above
the level of brute survival, places can communicate delight, surprise, wonder or
horror, and the ability to attend knowledgeably to such communications enhances
life. However, not every person experiences the same level of sense of place, because
a sense of place is highly dependent on observations by insiders and outsiders. A
sense of place is created by the distinguishing characters of the setting.
Finally, in the manufactured stage, Arefi (1999) claims the sense of place is a
modem venture, which typically manifests itself in historic preservation projects
glorifying national, regional or local identity (p. 183-4). The idea of sense of place
has developed broadly during modernism and globalization. Modem technology and
planning skills enable the production and reproduction of unique environments that
propagate social interaction. Therefore, as a legacy of modernism, sense of place is
often considered a romantic, nostalgic approach toward identity formation (Arefi,
1999, p. 184). This concept goes against the notion of the authentically created
place (Relph, 1976, p. 67) as well as the spirit of place or genius locr (Norberg-

Schulz, 1980, cl 979), but this approach fits the existing concept of heritage tourisms
commodification and devaluation of place, since the sense of place in this notion is
created through heritage, which can ndt exist without the participation of consumers.
A socially constructed authenticity would have been possibly created in this stage.
An Authenticity in Sense of Place
According to the Nara Document on authenticity' drafted in 1994 in Japan, cultural
diversity is the base of authenticity that occurs in a natural, evolutionary process.
From the viewpoint of urban design and planning, urban development and
transformation affect the essence of authenticity for a given time and audience. Thus,
the city is not materially original or genuine, as it was constructed and as it has aged
and weathered in time (Rodwell, 2003). Hence, the concept of authenticity should be
consistent with the idea of sense of place for two reasons: first, sense of place
changes through time; second, the authenticity of historical reality is subject to
interpretation (Schouten, 1995).
Sense of place plays an important role in urban design and urban conservation. It
reveals the historical background and intrinsic value of the place that forms the place
identity and thereby becomes the major resource of tourism development. Early
research conducted by Relph similarly views place and authenticity as strongly
An authentic attitude to place is thus understood to be a direct and genuine
experience of the entire complex of the identity of places not mediated and
distorted through a series of quite arbitrary social and intellectual fashions
about how that experience should be, nor following stereotyped conventions

Sense of place is relatively abstract and cannot be reproduced in a historical context
Assi (2000) emphasizes that ft]he work of art or monument need to be recognized in
its context, thus [authenticity cannbt be added to the subject; it can be revealed
only in so far as it exists (p.61).
The value of authenticity in society that Assi (2000) proposes is quite similar to the
concept of authenticity in the Nara Document. He says,
authenticity essentially means being true to itself Such authenticity will be
reflected in the continuation of traditions and traditional types of function and
use. This will necessarily involve gradual changes in the built environment
that may be seen as an expression of an authentic cultural and social spirit.
That is to say, the sense of place is reflected in an authentic urban context that
supports place identity.
An authentic attitude to place ... comes from a full awareness of places for
what they are as products of mans intentions and the meaningful settings for
human activities, or from a profoimd and unselfconscious identity with place.
(Relph, 1976, p. 64)
Based on the literature review in this section, the notion of socially constructed
authenticity cannot be applied to the case study of the Ancient City of Pingyao
completely, but the connection is valid for the socio-cultural and economic impact
generated by the prevailing tourism development. In China, authenticity in tourism
settings is defined by the tourism industry in order to satisfy the tourists curiosity
about the mysterious Chinese culture. Thus, tourist-oriented authenticity is
constructed through tourism settings, instead of by society during a transformation

process. MacCannells staged authenticity in the creation of the front and back
stages applies to most museum-style historic tourist destinations in China. In other
words, the lack of participation of ihe majority of local population in the development
process creates the dialectic among local residents and dominant power. However,
the theory of socially constructed authenticity needs to be re-interpreted to reflect this
tourist-driven interpretation of place. The homogenous tourism development that has
prevailed in China since the 1990s is part of the modernity of the country and has
helped to reconstruct economic power between rural and urban China. Authenticity
in tourist settings in China is thus a result of economic influences and is determined
by the viewer (including tourists, officials, and a small proportion of the local
Moreover, if authenticity is socially constructed and is part of the connotation of
heritage tourism, there is an obvious conflict between sense of place and this
negotiable authenticity. However, the two could co-exist in a living historic city that
accommodates both the needs of tourists and those of local people. However, due to
the pattern of development, tourism settings and local life are usually mutually
exclusive in the majority of Chinese tourist destinations. The over-emphasis on
museum-style historic preservation usually damages the sites sense of place.
Therefore, the search for the authenticity of an historic city like the Ancient City of
Pingyao must not be limited to the heritage structures only. On the contrary, the need
to delineate the citys authenticity from a viewpoint of the settlements integrity and
its sense of place is indeed the center of this study.

Conclusion: Revisiting Urban Conservation of a Living Historic City
An historic town is a place where people have interacted with the environment
through different times and in different social contexts. This interaction produces the
specific complexity of the given urban context. What establishes the unique character
of a historic place today is the result of historical accumulation. We call this
character that results from the cumulative interactions genius loci, spirit of place,
sense of place, or place identity, depending on the context. The major purpose of
urban conservation is to retain the physical environment with this special character
and to provide the chance for future generations to synthesize new activities based on
the past.
In this study, the traditional urban elements with significant meaning and social
function in traditional Chinese city planning are assumed to be the key components
that create the spatial structure that helps to sustain the local culture. In a historical
townscape, conservation is related to philosophical problems of selectivity,
authenticity, interpretation, and re-creation of the cultural heritage that have defined
and redefined the meaning and significance of the cultural resource (Nasser, 2003b,
p. 477). Different political, social and economic situations in society brought
particular building forms and land utilization patterns to different places at different
time periods. From this point of view, Conzens concept of hierarchical regions in
urban morphology lays a solid theoretical foundation for my research on the historical
townscape. Karimis theory about traditional elements and their function of
establishing the spatial environment in Iranian and English historic cities serves as my
guide to investigating the traditional anchor elements and their shifting meanings in
the townscape of the Ancient City of Pingyao,

According to the theoretical findings, traditional eiements/anchor buildings are media
through which to carry out the responsibility of continuing the culture. Cultural
identity is reflected in the day-to-day interplay between buildings, spaces, social
activities, and ritual commemorations (Nasser, 2003a, p. 77). Sense of place is
created through collective memory underpinned with the process of urban
conservation. In other words, the sense of place is maintained when social memory
and social space conjoin to produce much of the context for modem identities
(Hoelscher & Alderman, 2004, p. 348).
In addition, Conzen emphasizes the processes of change that are likely to affect the
historical townscape. These incremental changes will redefine authenticity through
time. Authenticity in a historical setting is expressed in the layout of townscape and
building arrangement, both of which are essential to maintaining an imageable
physical setting with strong meaning (Ouf, 2001, p. 85). Furthermore, historical
authenticity is interpreted and claimed by the dominant power. That is to say,
authenticity in urban conservation is also an ideological phenomenon through
functionalist concerns with pattern maintenance and symbols of collective identity
(Ehrentraut, 1993, p. 271).
Authors like Assi (2000), Jiven and Larkham (2003), and Ouf (2001) reaffirm the
close connection between sense of place and authenticity. In this research, I argue
that authenticity in sense of place is conveyed through the integrity of traditional
anchor elements and their physical environment, emphasizing the harmony between
the traditional anchor elements and the social and spatial environment where they
stand. Jiven and Larkham (2003) note that when places and buildings are used, the
overall character and appearance could be more important, to more people, than
authenticity of original materials (p.77).

This dissertation is a case-based study, a site-specific analysis. Due to the unique
attributes of this project, I conducted a combination of historical and scientific
research to thoroughly comprehend the characters of the traditional anchor elements
of the case study site through their historical development, and understand the
important roles that these traditional anchor elements play in the continuation of local
culture for future generations. Although urban conservation situations are usually
unique from place to place, the results of this case study, with proper adjustments,
will be applicable to other historical cities with similar political and cultural
conditions in Asia where inhabitants share similar lifestyles and religion, such as
China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, to name a
The purpose of this case study is to answer the research questions outlined in Chapter
1 and below and to provide a theoretical base for similar research on historical cities
in the future. This research project is a qualitative study with supporting quantitative
information. The research design, outlined below, includes three parts: methods, data
collection, and data analysis.

Site Selection
This undertakings case study is one of World Heritage Cities in China. As of 2007,
three historical cities in China are inscribed on UNESCOs World Heritage List.
They are the Ancient City of Pingyao in Shanxi Province, the Old Town of Lijiang in
Yunnan Province, and the Historic Centre of Macao (see Figure 2.1). The Ancient
City of Pingyao and the Old Town of Lijiang were both inscribed on the list in 1997,
and the Historic Centre of Macao was inscribed in 2005.
Figure 2.1: Location of the Ancient City of Pingyao in China
Lijiang is an open city and is featured for its indigenous culture. It has its owti
language, music, symbol and text. Lijiang has experienced extreme tourism
development during the last decade. In 2003, 3.2 million tourists visited this city, and

they created 200 million Chinese yen in revenue. Lijiang is no longer a living town
for the local community; instead, it has become a popular exotic destination for both
domestic and international tourists. The overwhelming tourism development has
transformed the Old Town of Lijiang into a tourist city where the phenomena of
cultural commodification has been embedded into the historical townscape.
The Historic Centre of Macao, which was governed by Portuguese administration
between 1887 and 1999, has been strongly influenced by both Western and Eastern
cultures. Its unique architectural, religious and cultural character provides evidence
of its importance in the international trading history since the sixteenth century.
Tourism and casinos have been the major input into Macaos revenue in the twentieth
In contrast, the Ancient City of Pingyao is an enclosed, walled city that is based on
Han culture, including their social order, ritual canons, and city building. In the same
year of 2003, Pingyao had 1.3 million visitors and received 23 million Chinese Yen
from tourism. Compared with the Old Town of Lijiang, the Ancient City of Pingyao
has had relatively less tourism development, and is more of a living city for local
Since tourism development is a likely trend for historical cities, it is important to find
ways for residents to continue local culture. I chose the Ancient City of Pingyao for
my case study because it has the potential to develop into a living city that
accommodates the needs of both tourists and the local population.

The Ancient City of Pingyao
The Ancient City of Pingyao is located in the center plains of the Shanxi province in
The Peoples Republic of China. It is 715 kilometers from Beijing and 80 kilometers
from the provincial capital, Taiyuan. The walled city of Pingyao is the administrative
center of Pingyao County. The major nationality6 living in the walled city is Han
nationality, with some Hui, Manchu and Mongolian nationalities. The total
population in Pingyao County is about 480,000 of which 45,000 to 55,000 people live
inside the walled city. The majority of the population in Pingyao County works in the
farming industry. Because it is part of the Loess Plateau in the northern China, the
city has long, cold winters and mild summers. It became one of the poorest counties
in China after the Qing dynasty collapsed in 1911 due to its lack of industrial
Importance of the Site
The Ancient City of Pingyao was first built during the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 B.C.)
and was renamed Pingyao in 424 during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). Its
original enclosing wall was rebuilt with brick in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty
(1368-1644), and most of the splendid buildings inside the walled city were
established in the 1880s during the height of the Jin Merchant Culture in the Qing
Dynasty (1644-1911). Pingyao was referred to as Little Peking (Shi & An, 1998, p.
147) for its architectural excellence and luxurious lifestyle. Because it was the
birthplace of the draft banking system in China, it also earned the nickname of
Chinese Wall Street for its financial importance.
6 China is composed of seven major nationalities, and 1 Ian nationality is the biggest one.

The Ancient City of Pingyao is the original city planned according to Han cultural
canons. During its heyday in the 1880s, draft banks franchises that originated there
were distributed across China and overseas, including locations in Japan, Singapore,
South East Asia and Russia. Many picturesque residential buildings were built during
this period. Three thousand seven hundred ninety seven of them remain intact, and
400 of them are of great value and well-preserved (Shi & An, 1998). Alter its heyday
as a financial city, the city of Pingyao declined beginning in 1911 and experienced a
harsh period without economic development due to its lack of natural resources. Its
relative unimportance saved the city of Pingyao from being destroyed by the
countrys sweeping economic changes.^
Pingyao changed from a successful financial city in the Ming and Qing Dynasties to a
living city during the Chinese Socialist era; thus, Pingyao offers a great deal of
historical richness. The city was designated as one of the Famous Historical and
Cultural Cities by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China in 1986
because of its historical significance and architectural integrity. In 1997, the city was
inscribed on the World Heritage List and since then has attracted both domestic and
international tourism. Both of these recognitions have increased Pingyaos
worldwide reputation and brought the possibility of the transformation of its social,
cultural, financial and physical environment.
The features that make this city unique and important are:
The walled city of Pingyao is a. prototype of an ancient Han cultural city, and
its city design and planning were based on the doctrine and customs of the
ancient feudal system
The city is an excellent example through which to explore the social systems
and city building of the Ming and Qing Periods.
The Ancient City of Pingyao is the most well-preserved walled city in China.

The strong style of local residential buildings is unique for their materials and
The Ancient City of Pingyao is experiencing its tourism development, yet is
still a living city for the locals.
Research Methods
'<* *
According to Yins (2003) theory on deciding research methods, the specific research
questions and the involvement of contemporary events are critical considerations
when choosing any strategy. Since this research project consists of both
contemporary events (tourism development) and historical events (original city
building), the case study strategy is the most effective.
This is a field-based study that is supported by historical documentation.
Stakeholders involved in this research are residents, local communities, tourism
operators, planners, and officials (including local and national). Answering the
research questions and providing a theoretical base for the study of cultural continuity'
in this historical townscape requires a thorough understanding of stakeholders
perceptions of the impact of tourism development. In addition, the investigation of
the history of city building and local people's memories of places at the site are key to
understanding the importance of the traditional anchor elements in the social structure
of different political periods in the past 100 years.
Methods involved in this study are resident surveys, focus group interviews, personal
interviews, documentation, and field observation.

Data Collection
Residents Survey and Interviews
Based on Patton (2002) and Bernard (1995), surveys and interviews require
systematic and logical design and sample selection. Patton (2002) says that sampling
in qualitative research focuses on small samples which are selected purposefully and
that [t]he logic and power of purposeful sampling lie in selecting an information-rich
case for study in depth. (Patton, 2002, p. 230). On the other hand, Bernard (1995)
states that systematic random sampling in quantitative research is much easier and
more economical to accomplish (Bernard, 1995). In this research project, the resident
survey included both qualitative and quantitative information; meanwhile, focus
group interviews and personal interviews were completely composed of qualitative
For an enclosed city like Pingyao with a population of approximately 45,000, it is
reasonable and efficient to choose systematic random sampling when conducting a
residents survey. In terms of focus group interviews and personal interviews, it is
critical to select an information-rich sample to ensure the correctness of the interview

Table 2.1: Sampling strategy
Data Source Sample Size Strategy ; 4 > Data Collection
Resident surveys 50 35 respondents living inside of the walled city, 15 living outside Older than 30 Part I: Questionnaire Part II: Open-ended questions
Focus group interviews 3 Each group consists of four to seven participants. 1. Institutional group, such as elementary and high school teachers 2. Local business owners 3. Tourism operators and agents Guided discussion Open-ended questions
Personal interviews 7 1. Initiator of World Heritage nomination 2. Coordinator of World Heritage nomination 3. Author of World Heritage nomination materials 4. Chief planner of the City of Pingyao 5. Urban conservation consultant 6. Scholar ?. Local gentry Guided discussion Open-ended questions
Residents survey sampling strategy
The major purpose of the residents survey is to reveal the impact of heritage tourism
on the local community from the view point of local people, as well as to capture the
memory and meaning of places within the walled city. The questionnaires were

divided into two parts: part I asked about the impact of tourism development, and part
II explored the memory of places (See Appendix). Due to the inconvenience of
public communication systems, including phones and the Internet, in Pingyao, I
conducted all surveys including both qualitative and quantitative questions in person,
accompanied by a trained local facilitator who speaks the Pingyao dialect.
Survey subjects were sampled on the basis of two key attributes, critical to this
research: age, and the location where they currently live, either inside or outside of
the walled city. These two factors were not cross-related.
Age was an important factor because the contemporary history of China is
complicated due in part to its constant political turbulence, including civil wars,
World War II and the Cultural Revolution. The sovereignty change in 1949 and the
Cultural Revolution in 1966 have had a particularly severe impact on society and
cultural sustainability in contemporary Chinese history. In order to understand how
policies impact peoples memory of places, respondents were expected to have gone
through the sovereignty change in 1949, the Cultural Revolution, or the Economic
Reform in 1978. Thus, all respondents thus were 30 years old or older. Gender was
not a concern. The respondents in each age group were not intended to be evenly
distributed; instead, respondents older than 40 years were favored, since they had
been through at least two political policy phases and were thus a better source of
information on events that happened at various places in the walled city. According
to its street pattern, the Ancient City of Pingyao is divided into four quarters. In order
to avoid spatial bias, samples were drawn evenly from among the four quarters.
The current living location was the second key sampling criteria. Both residents
living inside and outside of the walled city were the subjects of the residents survey.
People were not allowed to move freely after 1949 until the Economic Reform started
in 1978. Relocation has not been common m contemporary China Those residents

who currently live outside of the walled city generally relocated there either around
the 1990s when the city started its tourism development, or after 1997 when the
walled city was designated as one of the World Heritage Sites. This information
suggests that the reason they moved outside of the walled city is related to tourism
development or the impact from the citys development policy after the World
Heritage designation.
Focus group interviews sampling strategy
Focus group interviews are used strategically to get people to express their opinion in
Chinese society. In my focus group interviews, most of the questions were related to
the expectations for and impact of tourism development on different stakeholders and
their perception of the transformation of the usage of ritual buildings.
Participants in the focus group interviews were purposefully sampled, and the
interview questions I designed were open-ended but asked within a guided discussion
facilitated by myself and a local facilitator. These focus groups were composed of
stakeholders with different interests, and the number of participants in each group
was restricted to four to seven people. The benefit of conducting a group interview in
this research was that members of each group were acquainted with each other before
the interview and thus could easily talk with each other. My focus group interviews
included operators of the tourism industry, local business owners, and institutional
workers such as teachers and administrators. Invitations for focus group interviews
were sent out by the leader of the local society/committee and/or workers unit. Each
interview lasted for two hours.

Personal interviews sampling strategy
The intention of the personal interviews was to provide first-hand information to
explain the process of application for the World Heritage Site designation and to
enable me to understand the original intention of the World Heritage Site nomination
and its relationship with urban conservation.
The personal interview was comprised of purposeful sampling and is a guided
discussion. Interviews involved people on both local and national levels who were
involved in the process of the Ancient City of Pingyaos application for inscription on
the World Heritage List. Their intimate knowledge provided me with insightful and
reliable information. Interviewees included local planners and provincial planners,
initiators, experts and professors of urban conservation.
In the personal interviews, the questions were related to the Ancient City of Pingyaos
application for inscription on the World Heritage List and their opinion of tourism
development. Requests to interview local officials were made via phone and/or email
and each interview lasted around one hour.
Document Research
UNESCO documents
Since the Ancient City of Pingyao is one of the World Heritage Sites designated by
UNESCO, an investigation of UNESCO documents provides insightful information
on historic interpretation from the viewpoint of local government. The 1972
Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage

encourages State parties to nominate cultural and natural sites with outstanding value
in their countries for inscription on the World Heritage List. Thus, the State party
nominates its heritage sites, prepares nomination materials, goes through the
nomination process, initiates the management plan, and finally ensures the continuity
of the site for future generations after its inscription on the list.
According to the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World
Heritage Convention, the nomination materials submitted by the State party should
include five sections. These are 1) Identification of the property; 2) Description of
the property; 3) Justification for inscription; 4) State of conservation and factors
affecting the property; 5) Protection and management; 6) Monitoring; 7)
According to the official procedure, the nomination materials will be evaluated by the
advisory bodies of the World Heritage Committee, namely 1COMOS for cultural sites
and IIJCN for natural sites. Criteria that enable the site to be added to the list are
explicitly indicated in the operation guidelines as reference for State parties and the
World Heritage Committee. In the case of the Ancient City of Pingyao, when local
governments were preparing nomination materials, the regeneration of the historic
city also started. Thus, the materials the local government submitted to the World
Heritage Center of UNESCO and the historical tacts they included are key indicators
of the local governments perception and interpretation of the history of the Ancient
City. Examining these materials allowed me to compare the differences in the
selection of history between the local and the official.
The documents I examined related to World Heritage nomination include the
nomination materials developed by the local government, the advisory body
evaluation, and the decision report made during the 21st session of the Committee.

Administrative documents
Administrative documents from different departments of both local and central
governments are public records that indicate the requirements for managing existing
issues and for future development of the historical city. Legal documents from the
local government of Pingyao County are major resources for investigating the
implementation of public policies.
In this research, I only focused on documents related to. the development of the
walled city, especially tourism-related notices from planning offices and tourist
offices. These legal documents include preservation regulations, notices related to
tourism development, and notices related to the urban conservation of the Ancient
The government of Pingyao County has put recent legal documents online. Thus, in
addition to data collection on site, online documents have become an important
resource when conducting documentation research due to long distance. Two major
sources are the Pingyao County Government and the Pingyao Tourism Office. The
former provides notices regarding the management and conservation of the physical
environment. The latter provides the management and planning of tourism
Direct Observation
The current Chinese government is still a communist system, although the
transformation from communism to capitalism is now happening. Most policy
implementations are still imposed by local governments without a public hearing
process. Thus, direct observation plays important role in this research because it

reveals the existing phenomena in the field, especially the reaction of local
communities on the policies of local government. In this research, due to limited
access to government meetings, I used informal observation during the field visit. It
involved reactive observation and unobtrusive observation (Bernard, 1995).
The reactive observation in the field included random chats at various locations with
individuals such as store owners, local vendors, people on the street, tourism
operators, and tourist interpreters, to name a few. The purpose was to understand the
immediate reaction of the local community to the existing phenomena from a
different dimension that does not regularly appear in formal interviews. Thus,
reactive observation occurred spontaneously during the interactions with local
residents during the field visit of the case study.
The unobtrusive observation I conducted involved neighborhood observation,
including areas such as tourism districts, tourist destinations and various local
quarters. The focus of my unobtrusive observations included phenomena in any
given neighborhood, physical environment issues, and the behavior of local residents
and tourists at various time periods.

Data Analysis
Data Structure
This research involves bpth descriptive and numerical data. I determined the
structure of the data and selected the research methods through the exploration of my
research question and its sub-questions. Table 2.2 shows the relationship between the
data structure and the research questions.
The primary research question of this study is:
With its local historical legacy and the assistance of conservation policy, how can a
historical town/city sustain its local culture while accommodating both local needs
and tourists curiosity during its evolutionary process?
'I'wo sub-questions are used to more clearly delineate the research question:
a. How do the dissonances between o fficial and local interpretations of the historical
townscape affect the direction of its cultural development?
Methods used to answer this sub-question include the residents survey (part I), focus
group interviews, and official interviews. In addition, field notes from direct
observation provide supplementary information. Both numerical and descriptive
data are excerpted.
b. With their meanings and functions changed in different political eras, how can
traditional anchor elements help to sustain local culture?

In order to define the traditional anchor elements role in the continuation of local
culture, part of the open-ended discussion in the residents survey was designed to
elicit respondents recollections of locll people and places. Thus, methods engaged
to answer this sub-question are the residents survey (part II) and direct observation.
Descriptive data is the primary data in this section.
Table 2.2: Data structure
Data source Collection Method Character of Data Sub-question a Sub-question b
Residents survey Part I: Questionnaire Numerical X
Part II: Open-ended questions Narrative X
Focus group interviews Guided discussion Open-ended questions Descriptive X
Official interviews Guided discussion Open-ended questions Descriptive X
Documentation Archival Descriptive X X
Direct observation Field note Descriptive X X
Data Presentation and Analysis
In this research, data analysis consists of examining, categorizing, tabulating, and
recombining both quantitative and qualitative evidence (Yin, 2003) to answer the
research questions and to provide a theoretical base for future study. However, this
research is supported mainly by qualitative information with supplementary

quantitative information. N-Vivo software'was used to organize and categorize the
description and narrative data. The results cf the data analysis have been structured
for Chapters Five and Six in this dissertation.
Most of the data collection is qualitative information, aside from the first part of the
residents survey. In general, the data includes answers to open-ended questions and
guided discussions, and field notes. Therefore, based on the attributes of this
research, two forms of presenting data are used, direct quotes, and matrices and tables
(Bernard, 1995).
Due to the fact that this case study was located in China, all interviews were done in
Mandarin or Pingyao dialect. When reporting my findings, a fix-up translation is
required to make it readable seamlessly. Thus, direct quotes from open-ended and
guided discussions are included to reduce the chance of any secondary interpretation.
In order to receive systematic answers to my interview questions, all open-ended and
guided discussions were based on the same questions with slight adjustments when
needed. Thus, matrices and tables work well for categorizing the answers and for
analyzing data, in addition, matrices and tables are visually easy to read and analyze.
The results of my direct observations were compiled into field notes. In order to
reliably represent the results of my spontaneous observations and random chats with
local people, I carefully verified the results by making several visits to the same
places and checking with multiple resources.

The Ancient City of Pingyao in China has gone through three critical periods: the late
Qing Dynasty when the city was originally built, the Socialist Revolution after 1949,
and the Open Door/Economic Reform after 1978. The meaning and function of the
citys anchor elements in these periods are different and are affected by each eras
unique social needs. Further, the hierarchy of the townscape shifted according to the
various political changes.
An enclosed city like Pingyao was created to be a self-sufficient city with static
population. The application of Han ritual systems established the city as a well-
organized social and cultural institution. The hierarchy of the townscape was
demonstrated in the interactions between people and space; thus, the sense of place
was established through the day-to-day interplay between buildings, spaces, social
activities, and ritual commemorations (Nasser, 2.003a, p. 77). Anchor buildings in
each period created the spatial structure and social activifies? that sum up the
collective memory of the society.
A historical townscape is the accumulation of social, spatial and physical changes
through time. According to Conzens suggestion in the 1960s, the historical
townscape is formed by three form complexities: the town plan, building fabric and
urban land utilization. Among these, the town plan and building fabric, are most

resistant to change because they tend to reflect the pattern of past landownership and
capital investment more tenaciously than land utilization patterns, which change
according to the social and functional needs of the community at a given time
(Conzen, 2004). The Ancient City of Pingyao has undergone various townscape
shifts in different social and political epochs. Although its physical environment did
not change dramatically, Conzens theory of town plans provides us with a
fundamental understanding of the urban form while investigating the hierarchical
shifts and the changes of anchor buildings inside the walled city during different
periods. The analysis of the town plans of the walled city offers a morphological
approach to the analysis of a traditional Pity in China.
This chapter presents a historical revisiting of city building in the Ancient City of
Pingyao before 1978 and emphasizes three aspects. First, the chapter briefly
introduces the philosophy of Chinese city building. Second, the chapter investigates
the original town plan, including its building arrangement, the functions of anchor
buildings and the social activities that occurred in the public compounds. Third, it
reviews the ideological adjustment regarding townscapes after 1949, a product of the
establishment of new sovereignty and the destruction of old feudalism.
Philosophy of Chinese City' Building T
Traditional Chinese city building is not restricted to one single doctrine; on the
contrary', Chinese city building was ruled by a mixture of cosmic principles, common
ritual canons, the unique topology of sites and a certain degree offengshui influence.

Chinese Cosmic Principles and Ritual Canons
In general, the Chinese cities were established under the guidance of the ritual canon,
Chou-Li, the profound records from 2,000 years of the feudalist system. Chou-Li was
first known in the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-24 A.D.). The locus classicus
(Wheatley, 1971) of the layout of a capital city is clearly described in the last section,
Kao-Kung Ji. Kao-Kung Ji clearly indicates the size and the basic layout of a city
according to its administrative level in the feudal system. However, some scholars
(Guo, 2003; Xu, 2000) have questioned the validity of Kao-Kung Ji. Research and
field work done by scholars have shown that many capital cities since the Han
Dynasty did not completely follow the ritual canons in Kao-Kung Ji, especially cities
at the city or county administrative level.
The walled city is fundamental to traditional city building in China. The Chinese
word means both city and city-wall. All ancient cities in China are
surrounded by a wall for the purposes of defense and protection, as well as
administration. Usually cheng, the walled city, was in the center or strategic position
of the county and it distinguished the civil area apart from the rural area. The size of
the city depended on its administrative rank in the feudal system. The higher the rank
of an administrative city, the greater the planning area was. For example, each wall
surrounding a capital city is 4.5 kilometers long, while the walls of a county level city
cannot exceed 1.5 kilometers in length.
v f'fi -wr- *
The planning of the city emphasized the unity of heaven, earth and people. Since
Chinese civilization began, the Chinese cosmos has strongly influenced the elite, as
well as ordinary people, albeit in a more fragmented, simplified and dramatized form
(Tuan, 1996). Since the comic principles originated from an agricultural way of life,
the principles are based on season changes and the natural cycle. The Yin-Yang
system is the base for the cosmic principles, and the five elements (i.e., wood, fire,

earth, metal and water) are the essence of the Yin-Yang system. These cosmic
principles show in the division of the grid system of city layouts, which are ruled by
the four cardinal points and the center. Animals, elements, seasons, and substances
allocated to each of the directions represent the circulation of the cosmic system.
Among the four directions, the south is the orthodox direction in Han tradition, and is
always the ritually favored direction. This rule can be applied to the capital city or to
an ordinary residence in some degree. In Kao-Kung Ji, the ideal city is in square
shape, which explains the traditional concept of heaven round and earth square.
The city has been seen as a micro-cosmos with an order and a physical place to
express the philosophy of the unity erf earth, humans and heaven. The harmony
between the three is fundamental in order to maintain positive circulation of Chi
Figure 4.1: Yin-Yang and the Five Elements of City Building

Religion and Way of Life
In addition to cosmic principles and litual canons in the feudal system, traditional
Chinese city building was also strongly influenced by religion, specifically Taoism
and Confucianism (Wright, 1977). Religion was especially important in the
arrangement of temples and ritual structures. In the Chinese belief system, religion is
not the same as Western religions with organized churches. The Chinese word for
religion is Jiao, which means teaching or a system of teaching. Each Jiao has several
temples that represent their God, in contrast to the monotheistic Western religions.
Confucianism is not a religion in the Western sense, and Taoism and Buddhism also
exist as non-institutionalized systems of philosophy (Bodde, 1957). The origin of the
cultural canon in Taoism and Confucianism was peasant culture, but they were
transformed by the literate elite. These philosophies have been delivered to
subsequent generations by the elite, and are seen as one type of ritual canons popular
among the public.
In the Chinese system, no one belongs only to one temple. People go to different
temples for different purposes. Temples different purposes and meanings play
influential roles in the construction of the social structure, the stability of local
communities and the daily life of local people. The locations of temples are arranged
according to ritual canon and popular cult. Two major temples are located in most
traditional Chinese cities: a civil culture temple and a warfare temple. The civil
culture temple (Wen Maio) is on the east, symbolized by the sunrise, spring, green,
wood, and the blue-green dragon; the warfare temple (Wu Maio) is on the west,
symbolized by the sunset, autumn, white, metal, and the white tiger.
Due to the huge territory and geographical diversity of China, fengshui also plays a
significant role in Chinese city planning, especially in the site selection. The concept