[Paper] In Search of Authenticity in Historic Cities in Transformation: the Case of Pingyao, China

By Shu-yi Wang


In a historic city, physical setting determines the uniqueness of a place, and the social and cultural activities in the physical setting enrich its cultural value. Along with the demands of modernization, the development of heritage tourism facilitates urban conservation, but it also challenges the meaning of the ‘authenticity’ of a historic city. The case study of the Ancient City of Pingyao, China, illustrates the city was transformed via political changes, and the functions of the traditional anchor elements in its city centre shifted; yet, the sense of place, in the form of collective memory, remained in its anchor elements across generations. However, memorable events, either personal or collective, are eclipsed by the over-emphasis on authenticity in the tourist setting. If the priority objective of preserving a historic city is to continue the local way of life, it is important to approach the discourses of authenticity of a historic city from the settlement's integrity, including the authenticity in physical setting, tourist setting and sense of place.

Pingyao Map











Citation: Wang, S.-y. (2011). In Search of Authenticity in Historic Cities in Transformation: the Case of Pingyao, China. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 9(1), 13-25.


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