Professor Tim Winter gives his thoughts on how heritage is being protected, re-worked and created in the midst of urban development.
When looking at the situation of heritage and its governance in urban environments, it’s both an exciting and confusing time – and nowhere more so than in Asia. The speed and scale of development in many of the region’s cities – including those in East Asia – is remarkable to observe. With that comes both optimism and dismay: optimism about what the future holds, economically and in terms of fast improving lifestyles; but dismay for those losing the things they cherish around them, those signs and markers of cultural continuity and stability.
For me, one of the most significant issues that bears upon cultural heritage and its conservation today is the rise of the middle class in Asia. New levels of education, disposable incomes and access to travel are changing the way people think and respond to the buildings around them, the furniture they have at home, their taste in art, food and dress. But whilst we see the flowering of ever more cosmopolitan forms of citizenry across Asia, we also states ruthlessly using heritage as a resource for development and ever more strident forms of nationalism. Whilst divergence and contradiction have long underpinned the cultural politics of heritage – I think we are witnessing something new and important in Asia’s cities today. Taipei is the perfect environment to consider such issues and complexities.
Professor Tim Winter, Research Professor at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University and Keynote speaker for Inheriting the City: Advancing Understandings of Urban Heritage.