Understanding Authenticity in China’s Cultural Heritage
4: Can a Copy Deliver an Authentic Experience? An Interdisciplinary Approach to Fieldwork Conducted in Southeast China
Friday, March 25, 2022
9:30am – 11:00am EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Poland
This paper investigates the contemporary architectural copy-cat phenomenon in Chinese tourism by examining selected theme parks and replicas that were built in the Guangdong province between the 1980s and today. The study is based on ethnographic research and thirty-five interviews that were conducted in 2015 in the Guangdong province. The main focus was to analyse the perception of authenticity of the replicas among the tourists. In the article, I introduce the concept of ‘tourism for the sake of imitation’, which describes the motivations and drivers behind visiting replicas. One of the most relevant differentiators of this kind of tourism is that tourists are not aiming to recognise and interpret tourist attractions as part of their tourist experience. In ‘tourism for the sake of imitation’ the visitor focuses on the enjoyment of the view (the signified) regardless of the marker (signifier, in other words, the original attraction).