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Photo of Marina Svensson

Marina Svensson


Photo of Marina Svensson

Nanluoguxiang: Imagined Heritage and Changing Communities


  • Marina Svensson

Summary, in English

This paper focuses on Nanluoguxiang (NLGX), a historic neighbourhood in Beijing, where the author lived for 2,5 years. The neighbourhood is one of 25 conservation areas in the city, and since 2008 a popular tourist attraction among both domestic and foreign tourists. The area has a long history and
many well preserved buildings, including two smaller museums. However, many aspects of the area’s rich history and old residents’ memories are ignored or largely invisible in the promotion and heritagization of the area. The visitor is confronted with an extreme commercial experience and a heritagescape that explores people’s nostalgia for an imagined traditional life framed and sold as ‘old
Beijing’ and ‘hutong’ life. The commercialization and gentrification of the area has also dramatically changed the life of old residents and their everyday spatial practices. However, new forms of cultural activities and communities have also emerged in the area that shows how memories and heritage are constantly evolving. The paper explores the confluence and negotiations between imagined, commercial and hidden stories of NLGX. It pays particular emphasis to the sensory and spatial
xperiences of old and new residents, visitors and tourists. The paper is inspired by recent works on sensory and visual ethnographic methods, and makes ample use of the authors’ long-term knowledge of the area, different visual documentations, and a range of mediated stories about the area.


  • Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • History and Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies


  • heritage
  • China
  • Asia
  • urban history
  • Asian studies

Conference name

Asian Dynamics Initiative Conference 2016

Conference date

2016-06-20 - 2016-06-22

Conference place

Copenhagen, Denmark




  • Kulturarv och bevarandefrågor i Kina