Zurück zur Übersicht Sonntag, 27.11.2022


18.30 Uhr

Rice terrace landscapes and their traditional cultivation as resources for regional and local development?

Insights into socio-cultural and economic transformations of the Hani Rice Terraces in Yunnan Province

Dr. Fabienne Wallenwein (Heidelberg Centre for Transnational Studies, Universität Heidelberg)

Extensive rice terraces were among the earliest East and Southeast Asian properties acknowledged by UNESCO as representative cultural landscapes to be inscribed on the World Heritage list. In China’s Yunnan Province, strong development agendas on different administrative scales (national, regional, local) constantly challenge the conservation of one such World Heritage landscape, the Hani Rice Terraces, inscribed in 2013. Demographic changes and out-migration that result from a low economic return and laborious maintenance further threaten a continuation of terrace cultivation by younger generations. However, such structural problems remain invisible in romanticised depictions of terraced paddy fields used for promotion of cultural tourism. Through the critical lens of a ‘Politics of Scale’, this talk aims to illustrate how local heritage ‘assets’ are harnessed by public and private actors who pursue their own scalar strategies in the course of World Heritage inscription. Cultural tourism-oriented development further exposes local heritage including related traditional knowledge to an increasing commercialisation. Landscape management in the Hani Rice Terraces shows attempts to prioritise conservation, for example by establishment of water regulation mechanisms that follow Hani customary law and the development of alternative business models for marketing locally grown red rice. Besides higher quality of an organically cultivated produce, this model builds on digital technology and distribution via e-commerce platforms. Following a brief introduction to scale theory and its origins in critical geography, this talk provides some input to stimulate discussion on scalar analysis as a method for exploring socio-cultural and economic changes, in Chinese cultural landscapes and beyond.

Zur Person:
Dr Fabienne Wallenwein studied East Asian Studies, Sinology and Economics in Heidelberg, Beijing and Shanghai. Her research focuses on urbanisation, social housing policy, cultural heritage conservation and landscape revitalisation in China. As part of her dissertation project, she conducted several case studies on historic urban area regeneration in the Jiangnan region. Her book Tackling Urban Monotony. Cultural Heritage Conservation in China’s Historically and Culturally Famous Cities traces the formation of a multi-layered urban conservation system in China, from its conceptual origins to practical implementation. She is currently postdoctoral researcher in an interdisciplinary research tandem titled “Cultural Landscape as a Resource for Social Innovation. A Contribution to the (Re-)Vitalisation of Marginal Regions”, which is supported by Heidelberg University’s Flagship Initiative “Transforming Cultural Heritage”. The tandem investigates functional and transformative innovation processes that are part of cultural landscape (re)activation in marginal regions.

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Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS)

CATS Auditorium 010.01.05 (Hybrid)

Voßstraße 2

69115 Heidelberg


Prof. Dr. Anja Senz, Institut für Sinologie

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