Dr Yujie Zhu

MA, PhD (Anthropology), Heidelberg University, AFHEA
Senior Lecturer, ANU Research School of Humanities & the Arts
College Arts & Social Sciences
T: (02)61252910

Research interests

  • Politics of the Past
  • Material Culture
  • Social memory
  • Cultural Tourism
  • Digital heritage
  • Heritage and Religion
  • Politics of Remembering and Forgetting 

Teaching Interests:

HUMN8033 Tourism, Heritage, and Globalisation

HUMN8019 UNESCO and World Heritage: Conserving Cultural Heritage Values

HUMN8035 Critical Issues in Intangible Heritage

HUMN8037 Culture and Heritage in China Field School

I am a convenor of Culture and Heritage Field School (China), conducted bi-annually in partnership with Sichuan University. 


As a scholar of anthropology and heritage studies, my research interests centre on heritage and its relation with politics, social memory, cultural tourism and religious practices. My first book Heritage and Romantic Consumption in China (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) explored the roles of post-disaster reconstruction and heritage tourism in shaping the relationship between Han Chinese and ethnic minorities.https://www.aup.nl/en/book/9789462985674/heritage-and-romantic-consumption-in-china

My second book Heritage Politics in China (Routledge, 2020; co-authored) considered the impact of heritage policies and discourses on the Chinese state and society. https://www.routledge.com/Heritage-Politics-in-China-The-Power-of-the-Past-1st-Edition/Zhu-Maags/p/book/9781138332706

I am currently completing my third book Heritage and Tourism: Critical Approaches (Cambridge University Press). It explores ethical issues that are hidden behind the economic and cultural benefits of heritage tourism, and advocates the development of the industry as an exercise of empowerment and co-production. I am also co-editing a volume Heritage and Religion in East Asia (Routledge).

My recent journal publications include; ‘Uses of the past: Negotiating heritage in Xi’an’, (International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2018); Domesticating tourism anthropology in China’, (American Anthropologist, 2018); ‘Lifestyle mobility: Shifting conception of home’, (International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2018); ‘Cultural effects of authenticity’, (International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2015) and ‘Performing heritage: Rethinking authenticity in global tourism’ (Annals of Tourism Research, 2012).

Before joining the ANU Center for Heritage and Museum Studies, I received my Ph.D. in Anthropology from Heidelberg University, Germany and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Center on China in the World, ANU. I serve as Vice-President (Communication) of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and Associate Editor of Journal of Anthropological Research.

Researcher's projects

Sites of Memory and Nation Building

Since the early 20th century, heritage, museums and memorials have played active roles in constructing and reinterpreting the social memories of nation-states and sub-groups within the national population (Lowenthal 2015). Powerful state narratives are not monolithic and unchanging; rather they become lieux de mémoire (sites of memory) that adapt continuously to changing economic and political demands (Nora 1989; Winter 1995). Among the key questions that emerge from these shifting adaptations are: what kinds of narratives of the past are selected and interpreted for public display? How and why does the state turn historic events into ‘sites of memory’ for commemoration? A close investigation of these questions will help us understand the way in which mechanisms for the commemoration of the past – heritage, museums, memorials – become the foundation of modern nation-building.


Religion and Heritage in East Asia

While religious heritage occupied one fifth world heritage sites in East Asia, yet very little research examines the interrelationship between the two.This project analyses the socio-cultural and political consequences of heritagisation of religious sites and practices. What is actually being revived and what is being invented? How does this development affect religious spaces and the perception of religion in the public realm? Does heritage serve as a new tool for the state to control and regulate religious spaces? Or does heritage offer a fertile ground for religious revival? Does the heritage industry engender secularization and a loss of religious efficacy? Or do such commercial practices lead to innovation in religious-spiritual life?


Future of the Past: Heritage and Urbanization

The recent urban development in Xi'an illustrates how local authorities are rebuilding an imagined and ancient capital of China which is tied to the remote Tang dynasty, a symbol of the glorious Chinese civilization. Based on instrumental uses of the past, Xi'an has implemented heritage plans to create an aesthetically pleasing and economically valuable destination for display and consumption. This study contributes to an understanding of the contested nature of heritage in the rapidly shifting urban landscape of contemporary China.

Current student projects

I am currently supervising PhD students working on the following topics:

  • Intangible heritage and community building
  • Politics of industrial heritage in Japan
  • Reconstruction of Chinese anicent city
  • The Silk Roads or Economic Belt: An Analysis of the Interaction Between China’s World Heritage and its Economic and Political Ambitions
  • Mining development and social impact on Taiwan indigenous peoples
  • The conversation of cultural landscape in Chengdu Plain under new countryside construction
  • HUL Approach for Sustainable Managment of Chinese HIstoric Urban Centres with Colonial Backgrounds


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  26 January 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers