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Volume 3 Supplement 2

Rural Heritage: Value, Conservation and Revitalisation

Safeguarding Traditional Villages in China: The Role and Challenges of Rural Heritage Preservation


Since the reform and opening-up policy of 1978, China has established the double-track inventory system of rural heritage preservation to cope with the impact of rapid urbanisation on rural areas. This paper analyses the evolution in the concept of policy making from the Historical and Cultural Villages system to the Traditional Villages system. It argues that the mass recognition of Traditional Villages in China since 2012 indicates that the understandings of rural heritage have evolved from the distinguished to the diverse, the tangible only to the intangible included, and the material-based to the human-based. Under the rural revitalisation policy, the role of Traditional Villages in social development will be further explored and promoted as ‘means of improvement’, looking for the balance between protection and development of rural heritage in the urban-rural dual structure.


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Correspondence to Songfeng Chu.

Additional information

This paper is based on the field study project organised by Centre for Land and Cultural Resources Research of Fudan University in 2018. The project is supported by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China, in which a total of 137 interviews with villagers, social groups and departmental officials were conducted in five provinces, including Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guizhou and Shanxi.

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Zhou, M., Chu, S. & Du, X. Safeguarding Traditional Villages in China: The Role and Challenges of Rural Heritage Preservation. Built Heritage 3, 81–93 (2019).

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