Preservation, authenticity construction, and imagination of cultural heritage in Taipei
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This dissertation commences a critical examination of the issue of historical representation and draw on the fieldwork surrounding Bopiliao Historic District in Taipei to explore how the imagination and authentic sense of heritage influence the designation of historic sites and the way in which people use authenticity to negotiate their position in the progress of place making. The buildings cannot speak for themselves. Historical significance is not a given but something that needs to be interpreted and constantly reimagined. A sentimental yearning for a former time and place is not enough to explain the establishment of this historic district with twists and turns and the ambivalence over it expressed by the host community. The first empirical chapter describes the historical background, preservation process, and the status quo of Bopiliao Old Street under the influence of the government-supported film Monga , which causes considerable controversy over heritage and culture representation and affects public image of the site and the host community. The second empirical chapter illustrates how an old urban neighborhood has been narrated, interpreted, and eventually certificated and accepted by the public as cultural heritage based on various social groups' heritage imagination and practice. The third empirical chapter examines how the stakeholders construct and employ the idea of authenticity to justify their viewpoint of cultural heritage and to strive for their position in the progress of place making. My research seeks to contribute to the sociological literature on historic representation, heritage interpretation, and the construction of historical authenticity by exploring the increasingly central role played by media, activists and the locals. The tangible heritage is the production of the interaction between historic relics and the host community. Historical representation in the cinematographic media became a stimulus urging civil resistance to the existing official forms and strategy of historic preservation. Tourism continues to highlight the impact as well, for the opinions of the visiting tourists play an important role in reinforcing the image of destination. The contradiction in the sense of authenticity among social groups implies the existence of entirely different images of cultural heritage. The conflict represents the struggle of establishing local identity in contemporary Taiwan society. It is argued that the preserved heritage never denotes a successful end; rather, it is a start of the dialectical place-making process.