Semi-formal cultural governance and state-sponsored commercialisation in the intangible cultural heritage field: the case of Chongqing, China

Writer : Bowen Xiao, Ting Long
Year : 2024

This article adopts the governmentality approach to determine how cultural subjectivity is emerging at the grassroots to promote another type of state-sponsored commercialisation in addition to marketisation. The 16-year process of heritagisation and commercialisation of a provincial-level intangible cultural heritage (ICH) demonstrates that contemporary Chinese local cultural administration practice drew on semiformal governance by using officially recognised ICH inheritors in regions where the ICH-related tourism market is neither renowned nor developed. On the one hand, while the state establishes the ICH regime with great legal capacity, the state’s limited financial and human resources at the grassroots level restrict the achievement of ICH governance objectives. The state’s emphasis on ‘culture,’ on the other hand, has resulted in the emergence of skilled and autonomous cultural actors like Zhao who employ flexible boundary work to interact with various state actors inside and outside the ICH field, promoting ICH safeguarding and commercialisation.