AccScience Publishing / AC / Volume 2 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.36922/ac.1923
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Cultural convergence in heritage landscape conservation: A comparative study of Chinese and English traditions

Johnathan Djabarouti1* Youcao Ren2
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1 Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom
2 Sheffield School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Submitted: 26 September 2023 | Accepted: 4 December 2023 | Published: 20 February 2024
© 2024 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC-by the license) ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ )
Abstract

There are distinct Eastern and Western approaches that shape the conservation and interpretation of cultural heritage landscapes. While existing literature assesses each approach individually, there is limited research exploring potential for cross-cultural exchange and innovation to inform a more holistic conservation of heritage landscape sites. Using Chinese (representative of Eastern) and English (representative of Western) approaches as archetypal cases, and underpinned by a phenomenological ontological perspective, this theoretical contribution firstly establishes key distinctions between Chinese and English approaches toward heritage landscapes by conducting a review of relevant sources. Differences are subsequently synthesized into a comprehensive framework that supports a cultural convergence of approaches toward heritage landscapes. Informed by the literature, six key differences in approach are identified: (i) Philosophical underpinnings; (ii) spiritual and artistic emphasis; (iii) holistic and individual attitudes; (iv) concerns of continuity and evolution; (v) approaches toward community involvement; and (vi) relationship between nature, spirituality, and human-centricity. After reviewing these differences, a holistic framework is proposed that is underpinned by four key elements which have the capacity to overcome the differences identified: (i) harmonizing spirituality and esthetics; (ii) balancing continuity and evolution; (iii) fostering inclusive stewardship between communities and practitioners; and (iv) cultivating equilibrium between people and nature. The study concludes that this framework – what is termed a “cultural convergence” – can support more effective conservation of landscape sites, by capturing a broader cultural spectrum of heritage principles and concerns. The proposed framework opens avenues for cross-cultural exchange and advancement of more holistic heritage conservation strategies within an increasingly globalized heritage context. Future research should seek to apply this framework to the contemporary conservation of distinct heritage case study sites of interest to further advance research on this topic.

Keywords
Conservation
Cultural heritage landscape
Heritage
Heritage landscape
Holistic conservation
Intangible heritage
Funding
None.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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