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Heritage, Local Communities and the Safeguarding of ‘Spirit of Place’ in Taiwan

By | May 2013
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Heritage, Local Communities and the Safeguarding of ‘Spirit of Place’ in Taiwan Peter Davis, Han-yin Huang International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University, NE1 7RU, UK p.s.davis@ncl.ac.uk; han-yin.huang@ncl.ac.uk AND Wan-chen Liu Graduate Institute for Museum Studies, Fu-Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan wanchenliu@yahoo.com Abstract: After brief reviews of the theoretical issues relating to place and ecomuseological processes this paper traces the changing relationships between people and place in Taiwan. Recent research carried out by the authors with local communities on Matsu (a group of Taiwanese islands off the coast of mainland China), and case study material collected from local cultural workshops in southern Taiwan provides a focus for the discussion. Both sets of data demonstrate the growing awareness of heritage by local communities in Taiwan, and their recognition that heritage is significant because it reflects and builds local identities, can aid community sustainability and provides a sense of place. It is suggested that the research and processes described here indicate that the heritage sector in Taiwan would benefit by becoming more community-centred, with consultation, involvement and democratisation playing a significant part of the process of safeguarding natural resources, the cultural environment and intangible cultural heritage.

1. Heritage and ‘Sense of Place’ Terms such as ‘belonging’, ‘identity’, and ‘community’ are frequently used when discussing ideas about place, and the more elusive ‘sense of place’ or ‘spirit of place’. Exploring place has been a research focus in several disciplines, including anthropology, ecology, geography, psychology, sociology and (to a lesser extent) cultural and heritage studies. The human geographers Yi-Fu Tuan, Edward Relph and Anne Buttimer are regarded as pioneers in using experiential perspectives to reflect on place and ‘sense of

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place’ (Cresswell 2004,...

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