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Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Elgar original reference

Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa

Cultural heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. The Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage outlines the contribution of economics to the design and analysis of cultural heritage policies and to addressing issues related to the conservation, management and enhancement of heritage.

Chapter 26: Virtual worlds, virtual heritage and immersive reality: the case of the Daming Palace at Xi’an, China

Maurizio Forte

Subjects: development studies, tourism, economics and finance, cultural economics, public sector economics, environment, tourism, geography, tourism


This contribution is focused on the analysis of the role of virtual worlds and immersive realities1 in relation with the impact and relevance they can have in the digital communication and management of heritage. I will discuss Virtual Heritage (VH), in relation to the principles of second cybernetics (Bateson, 1972). According to Bateson ‘without context there is no communication’ and the ‘map is not territory’ (Bateson, 1972). This means that any communication process has to be contextualized and that we need a code for any informational transmission. These principles can be applicable to VH, in the sense that VH represents the cybernetic ‘map’, the code of cultural heritage and its context of communication. A VH process is intended as the capacity of learning and transmitting information in a virtual environment, which depends on the feedback generated by differences between actor/user and the environment (Forte and Bonini, 2010). In this domain of overlapping of technological, social, cultural and economic issues, it is very important to distinguish between ‘cultural value’ and ‘economic’ in relation to heritage. Both terms are difficult to consider in an absolute way: the informational cultural value depends on the process of feedback, dissemination, communication and e-learning; the economic value of the benefits produced by a VH circuit (in relation with territory, local context, media, cultural presence and social communication).

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