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In Diversity We Trust: Preserving and Promoting the Literary Heritage of Chinese Minorities


Initiatives geared at promoting heritage as a tool for the continual revalorization of cultural diversity have spread like fire in recent decades. Who determines what counts as heritage, however, has been contested. On the global sphere, the UNESCO holds a monopoly by controlling inclusion to the lists of World Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage. Espousing the UNESCO designations, China has in parallel developed an internal framework for the study and the dissemination of cultural heritage. Some scholars have criticized China’s co-option of the UNESCO discourse for nation-building. Yet scholarship in critical heritage studies concurs that heritage value is not inherent in cultural items themselves, but rather in how such items are used to assert and affirm certain sets of values. DIVE explores how Chinese authorities have mobilized the origin myths (chuangshi shenhua) of the 55 officially recognized Chinese minorities (shaoshu minzu) to sustain the discourse of China as a united, multicultural nation. These myths have been circulated via literary publications, documentaries/broadcasts, and websites. To analyze the information from these heterogeneous sources, DIVE employs a cross-disciplinary approach that draws from the candidates’ research experience in digital humanities and in literary, media, and minority studies. Exploring the authorized discourse on minorities’ myths, this action contributes to decentralizing Chinese literary studies (traditionally focused on the Han majority), and to heritage studies by providing the first in-depth research on minority heritage’s appropriation in a socialist context. Research outputs will strengthen the candidate’s academic profile as an expert on Chinese textual heritage, opening career opportunities in and beyond academia. Moreover, the study of heritage in a multicultural nation such as China prepares the candidate to provide comparative insights to heritage practitioners and policy makers in the European Union.


Net EU contribution
€ 188 590,08
Dorsoduro 3246
30123 Venezia

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Nord-Est Veneto Venezia
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
No data