Landscapes of memories: A study of representation for translocal Chinese cultural heritage in Kaiping, Guangdong, China

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, many young people emigrated from Guangdong to the American West in search of a better living, mainly through building the Pacific Railroad and panning for gold in California. Some of these overseas Chinese who eventually accumulated wealth sent remittances back to their hometowns to provide their families with a better life, or they built mansions for their own retirement. They also used their wealth to renovate ancestral halls, establish schools, get involved in local politics and issues of local public security, public hygiene, etc. The overseas Chinese were one of the important new rising social strata in modern China before the 1960s. This paper will focus on translocal Chinese cultural heritage in Guangdong and try to discuss how people memorize, narrate, preserve, and represent their migration history in these hometowns. Meanwhile, the meaning of the tangible cultural heritage as a landscape of memories in local society in China will also be discussed. Firstly, I think that there are three types of overseas Chinese memories: the memory of suffering, the memory of making fortunes, and the memory of a philanthropic image; secondly, I will deal with the narrative and representation of the collective memories since the 1990s and check how the collective memory became the cultural heritage beneath the state’s discourse; and finally, I will analyze how the overseas Chinese cultural heritage became resources for cultural tourism and local economic development, and show a process of commercialization of those landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-37
Number of pages33
JournalTranslocal Chinese: East Asian Perspectives
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Diaspora communities
  • Migration
  • Overseas Chinese hometowns
  • Sociocultural history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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