Online Conference: Understanding Authenticity in China’s Cultural Heritage (University of Oxford)

Date of event:   16/03/2021 − 20/03/2021

Title: Understanding Authenticity in China’s Cultural Heritage
Duration: 16-20 March 2021 through ZOOM
Organized by: Christopher Foster and Anke Hein, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

What we deem to be genuine or fake is not an objective determination, but something that we agree upon as communities. Debates about authenticity, moreover, are often intimately bound to question who owns the past and its representation. The “Understanding Authenticity in China’s Cultural Heritage” conference this March will explore these issues and more. From contesting narratives about the mother trees of Big Red Robe tea, to the restoration of Qin terracotta soldiers; from the experience of visiting a replica Eiffel Tower in Hangzhou, to US-China diplomatic tensions over “originality” and “shanzhai 山寨 (imitation)” – “Understanding Authenticity in China’s Cultural Heritage” brings together specialists from a broad range of fields and backgrounds, to explore how questions about “authenticity” impact their work on objects, texts, and intangible cultural heritage in China.

Please join us online from 16th – 20st March 2021, for a discussion on the construction of “authenticity,” both historically and today, in relation to China’s cultural heritage.

Registration is free, attendance is open to all, via submission of a short survey at the following link here. For more information please see the website here. Contact:

Format & Conference Preparation
The conference will be hosted virtually via the Zoom platform. The keynote by Prof. Lothar von Falkenhausen will be live. Video recordings of all other presentations will be made available ~1 week prior to the start of the conference. Attendees are expected to view these recordings beforehand. The live panel sessions will then be dedicated solely to questions & discussion on each of the presentations. Please see the full schedule below.


Programme (all times given refer to GMT time zone)

16 March 2021 | 14:00 – 15:30 | Keynote Lecture
Prof. Lothar von Falkenhausen (UCLA): The Irresistible Allure of Patina and Pedigree: A Case Study

17 March 2021 | 13:00 – 16:00 | Session 1 | Art and Material Culture
Prof. Craig Clunas (University of Oxford); Chair and Discussant

13:00 – 13:10 | Dr Christopher Foster (University of Oxford): Welcome and Opening Remarks
13:10 – 13:20 | Dr Anke Hein (University of Oxford): Welcome and Opening Remarks
13:20 – 13:40 | Prof. Emer. David Scott (UCLA): Constructions and Deconstructions of Authenticity in Chinese Art
13:40 – 14:00 | Dr Celia Carrington Riely (Independent Scholar): The Two Versions of Dong Qichang’s River in Mist and Piled Peaks and the Impact of High-Resolution Photography on the Question of Authenticity
14:00 – 14:20 | Zhang Yanzhuang (Gillian) PhD Candidate (Ohio State University): Authenticating Su Shi’s Snowy Wave Stone in Premodern China
14:20 – 14:40 | Break
14:40 – 15:00 | Prof. Jean DeBernardi (University of Alberta): The Modern Invention of Big Red Robe Tea: History, Story, and Performance
15:00 – 15:20 | Dr Robin Wilson (University of Oxford): Karamono (Chinese Things): Authenticity, legitimacy and mimetics in the production and use of Chinese-inspired Japanese ceramic tea utensils, past and present
15:20 – 15:40 | Gao Xuyang PhD Candidate (University of Oxford): Problems of authenticity: reflections on contemporary zishateapot-making techniques
15:40 – 16:00 | General discussion

18 March 2021 | 13:00 – 16:00 | Session 2 | Texts and Manuscripts
Dr Dirk Meyer (University of Oxford); Chair and Discussant

13:00 – 13:20 | Prof. Paul Goldin (University of Pennsylvania): The Spread of Virtue and the Fallacy of Authenticity in Classical Chinese Aesthetics
13:20 – 13:40 | Dr Kevin (Kuan-yu) Huang (City University of Hong Kong): Authenticity and the Authenticating of Ancient Chinese Texts
13:40 – 14:00 | Dr Nick Vogt (Indiana University): The “Real” Life (and Death) of King Wen: Biography as Authentication in the Yizhoushu
14:00 – 14:20 | Dr Corina Smith (Oxford): Venerated Documents: What are shu, and what is at stake?
14:20 – 14:40 | Break
14:40 – 15:00 | Rachel McVeigh MA Student (Peking University): (Mis)remembering the Tang? The attribution of the ‘Twenty Four Categories of Poetry’ to Sikong Tu
15:00 – 15:20 | Dr Timothy Thurston (University of Leeds): Multiple Authenticities of the Tibetan Gesar Epic
15:20 – 15:40 | Alexandra Forrester PhD Candidate (University of Cambridge): Constructing authenticity in the case of Chinese Zhengyi Daoist priests
15:40 – 16:00 | General discussion

19 March 2021 | 13:00 – 16:00 | Session 3 | Museums, Collections, and Displays
Prof J.P. Park (University of Oxford); Chair and Discussant

13:00 – 13:20 | Dr Li Xiuzhen (Janice) (University of Oxford): Revisiting Authenticity: Restoration and Conservation of the Qin First Emperor’s Terracotta Army
13:20 – 13:40 | Dr Gao Qian (University of Stirling): Authenticity and Heritage Conservation: Seeking Common Complexities beyond the ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ Dichotomy
14:00 – 14:20 | Prof. Cornelius Holtorf (Linnaeus University), Dr Ma Qingkai (Hangzhou Normal University), Chen Xian PhD Candidate (Zhejiang University), Dr Zhang Yu (Zhejiang University): Paris, China. Some thoughts about the value of simulated heritage
14:20 – 14:40 | Break
14:40 – 15:00 | Patrycja Pendrakowska PhD Candidate (University of Warsaw): Can a copy deliver an authentic experience? An interdisciplinary approach to fieldwork conducted in Southeast China
15:00 – 15:20 | Prof. Jennifer Kreder (Northern Kentucky University): Shanzai and Fuzhi Tensions in U.S.-Chinese Diplomacy
15:20 – 16:00 | General discussion

20 March 2021 | 13:00 – 16:00 | Session 3 | Cultural Heritage Management
Dr Yitzchak Jaffe (University of Haifa); Chair and Discussant

13:00 – 13:20 | Dr Tao Li (Shanghai Normal University): Attraction or Distraction? Exploring tourism implication for Heritage interpretation at National Archaeological Park of Qi Capital sites, China
13:20 – 13:40 | Dr Wei Qiaowei (Shanghai University): Touched by the past? Re-articulating the Longxing temple sites as community heritage at Qingzhou County, China
13:40 – 14:00 | Mark Hoskin PhD Candidate (SOAS): Rebuilding the visual to aid in reconstructing memories of the past
14:00 – 14:20 | Break
14:20 – 14:40 | Jie Hao PhD Candidate (University of Birmingham): Who decides? The Authenticity of Traditional Rural Settlement Heritagization Practices: A Case Study of a Chinese Traditional Village
14:40 – 15:00 | Dr Stefan Gruber (Kyoto University): Socio-legal Perspectives on Authenticity in China’s Cultural Heritage
15:00 – 15:20 | Dr Phillip Grimberg (University of Erlangen): UNESCO World Heritage and the Problem of Authenticity – The Case of “Built Structures” and China´s Tangible Cultural Heritage
15:20 – 16:00 | Final discussion