Erasure and appearance: A critical view on urban heritage management practices in China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The concept of erasure permeates contemporary debates in urban heritage management. Increasing pressure on heritage sites to fulfil economic goals and allow local populations to benefit from development while respecting diverse attributes of the physical and socio-cultural fabric is a key challenge for urban heritage management in the twenty-first century. This chapter argues that the erasures accompanying much of heritage development link to commensurate appearances in a reciprocal process with conscious and unconscious components. The theoretical scaffold of the erasure–appearance dyad (EAD) introduces the structure of this chapter. Components of the EAD and its operative processes within urban heritage management, practices and policies that describe, prescribe, and proscribe, are examined with respect to specific sites in Laos, Vietnam, China, and Thailand. Heritage management documents and associated contextual conditions are then explored for two ancient towns inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, Luang Prabang and Hoi An, and for two sites on UNESCO’s Tentative List, Zhouzhuang and Chiang Mai. These cases illustrate the explicit and implicit dimensions of descriptions, prescriptions, and proscriptions as important components of the EAD. The chapter concludes by proposing that greater awareness of the EAD might inform construction of multiple urban heritage narratives and how those multiple narratives can enrich ‘heritage-scapes’ for residents and visitors.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook on Historic Urban Landscapes in the Asia-Pacific
EditorsKapila D Silva
ISBN (Electronic)9780429486470
ISBN (Print)9781138598256
StatePublished - Jan 16 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


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