The International Symposium on “Theorizing ‘Material’ and ‘Immaterial’ Cultural Heritage in China” is Successfully Held
(2019-07-23 17:07:03)

From July 20 to 21, 2019, the “International Symposium on Theorizing ‘Material’ and ‘Immaterial’ Cultural Heritage in China” was solemnly held in Conference Room 325 of the Guoxue Guan of Renmin University of China. The conference was co-sponsored by the Department of Archaeology, School of History at Renmin University of China, Renmin University’s Institute of Northern Ethnic Archaeology, and the University of Cambridge Department of Social Anthropology’s Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit. It was co-sponsored by the International Office of Renmin University and the Institute for the Promotion of Chinese Language and Culture at Renmin University of China. More than 30 scholars from Britain, Switzerland, France, Belgium and other countries, as well as universities and museums in China participated in the conference. On the first day of the conference, the concept of the ‘immaterial’ was discussed from a theoretical and methodological level. On the second day, the boundary between ‘material’ and ‘immaterial’ in Chinese cultural heritage was interrogated.  In total, the symposium was divided into six sessions.

On the morning of July 20, the Vice President of Renmin University, Dr. Zhu Xinkai, attended the opening ceremony and on behalf of Renmin University of China and welcomed scholars from home and abroad. In his speech, Vice President Zhu expressed his sincere hope that this international seminar could deepen the theoretical discussion on the protection of both ‘material’ and ‘intangible’ cultural heritage, and that the results of the conference will play an active guiding role in the practice of cultural heritage protection.

Dr. Zhu Xinkai

At the opening ceremony, the sponsors of the conference, Dr. Lia Wei of Renmin University’s Department of Archaeology and Michael Long of the University of Cambridge’s Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit introduced the origin, purpose, and significance of the conference.

Dr. Lia Wei

Dr. Michael Long

Speeches were delivered by the Dean of Department of Archaeology at Renmin University and Director of Institute of Northern Ethnic Archaeology, Professor Wei Jian, and Dr. Sayana Namsaraeva of the Mongolian and Inner Asia Studies Unit at Cambridge University.

Professor Wei Jian

Dr. Sayana Namsaraeva

This was followed by six sessions of presentations, including ‘Immaterial Evidence in Frontier Archaeology’, ‘Cultural Heritage with Chinese Characteristics’, ‘Theorizing the ‘Intangible’ in Chinese Heritage’, ‘Authenticity: Replication Techniques and Ethics in a Cross-Cultural Perspective’, ‘Religious Attributions on Natural Geography’, and Materializing the Perception of Sites, Artifacts and Texts: Creative Practices in Humanities and the Social Sciences’.  There were three speakers in each session, followed by a discussant, and finally a question and answer session.

After all the conclusion of the talks, Dr. Lia Wei and Michael Long briefly reviewed the two days of discussions, and Professor Wei Jian delivered a concluding speech on behalf of the organizers. Professor Wei Jian believes that this conference is a valuable attempt in which scholars from different fields have discussed the conditions needed for the real integration of the concepts of ‘material’ and ‘immaterial’ in heritage studies and protection. Through the collaboration and exchanges of scholars from many countries and disciplines, opportunities can be found for the integration of numerous disparate disciplines. Professor Wei looks forward to providing theoretical evidence for future research in the field of material and non-material culture in China, and even in the world through the exchange results of this meeting.

Group photo

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