Policies, Practices and Positioning
Edited by Per Olof Berg and Emma Björner
Chapter 11: Heritage's place: heritage narratives in Chinese city promotional films
A city's character and identity are shaped by the diverse cultural, social and historical events that have taken place in the city. Many of those events have left an imprint on the urban landscape in the form of physical structures or are celebrated through specific monuments and buildings. The question, however, is what aspects of its history and heritage a city chooses to preserve and celebrate, how they are imagined and narrated in city branding, and what kind of organizations and which individuals are involved in this work. Heritage work and city branding have often been very top-down affairs managed by municipal governments, heritage bureaus and tourism offices that privilege those aspects of history and heritage that project a positive picture of the city, while ignoring other more problematic, contested or negative aspects of the city's heritage. This chapter begins with a general discussion on city branding and heritage, and the role of city promotional films in city branding. It then provides a brief background to heritage issues and urban developments in Beijing and Shanghai. The major focus of the article is an exploration of the role and use of cultural heritage in city branding and promotional films before and after two mega-events in China, namely the Beijing Olympics 2008 and the Shanghai World Expo 2010, and challenges to and problems with these heritage narratives and city branding exercises.
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