Lai Chee Kien
Lai Chee Kien is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar). He graduated from the National University of Singapore with an M Arch. by research , and then a PhD in History of Architecture & Urban Design from the University of California, Berkeley . His publications include A Brief History of Malayan Art (1999), Building Merdeka: Independence Architecture in Kuala Lumpur, 1957-1966 (2007), Cords to Histories (2013) and Through the Lens of Lee Kip Lin (2015). He researches on histories of art, architecture, settlements, urbanism and landscapes in Southeast Asia, and is also a registered architect in Singapore.
Reading Clouds: Urban Heritage in the time of Sharing Communities
Over the last few decades, the rationale for nationally and internationally-based conferment of heritage statuses for urban monuments and sites have been challenged. State politics often intervene into the processes of heritage definition, and how they may be heralded, altered or destroyed. At the national level, the budget for these works, especially in Southeast Asian countries, are of relatively low priority unless they are linked with state-sanctioned tourism or for specific political purposes. International heritage institutions, in the mean time, have not been able to steer clear of national politics nor come to terms with the different assessment criteria of heritage practices worldwide. This is complicated by global or state capitalism that also calculates and calibrates returns and exchanges for heritage consumption.
It has been an old aspiration that communities where the heritage elements are physically located partake in their maintenance and safekeeping, that is to say: heritage conservation from below. The very idea of imagined communities, introduced by Benedict Anderson in 1983, can now be extended to virtual ones with the widespread use of the internet. The World Wide Web, itself an electronic sharing platform, has created all manner of communities despite time and place of member participation. We may witness the successes of such groups in electronic interfaces such as Facebook, Kickstarter, Uber and even Air bnb. Like the analogy of clouds, vapours converge until these ‘communities’ form discernible shapes and critical mass that result in condensation. In this presentation, I shall explore the potential futures of urban heritage using examples in Singapore and Taiwan at this time of sharing communities.
Tim Winter is Research Professor at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, Melbourne. He has published widely on the relationship between cultural heritage and development, urban sustainability, conflict transformation, tourism and international relations. He is President of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and been a consultant for the World Bank, Getty Conservation Institute, and World Monuments Fund, and been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge, The Getty and University College London, Qatar. His recent books include The Routledge Handbook of Heritage in Asia and Shanghai Expo: an international forum on the future of cities, and he is currently working on urban sustainability in Asia and heritage diplomacy.
Urban Heritage and One Belt One Road: towards networks of trade, diplomacy and preservation
This presentation introduces heritage diplomacy as a framework for understanding the future of urban heritage in Asia. It will be suggested that we need to move beyond reading cities and urban centres in isolation or within the contexts of nation-state development and politics, and instead move towards accounts that better address transnational connections, flows and networks. To illustrate this, the paper focuses on the One Belt, One Road project (OBOR). By reading OBOR through the lens of heritage diplomacy, we begin to see how the cultural heritage of various cities across the Asia region will be both transformed and preserved within a complex mix of trade deals, geopolitics and ideas about civilization and history.