Social Values and Rock Art Tourism: An Ethnographic Study of the Huashan Rock Art Area (China)



Gao Q (2017) Social Values and Rock Art Tourism: An Ethnographic Study of the Huashan Rock Art Area (China). Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, 19 (1), pp. 82-95.

The rapid expansion of cultural tourism has led to increased numbers of visitors to rock art sites throughout the world. The rise of rock art tourism has affected not only the preservation of rock art sites, but also the social values attributed to the sites by communities in the immediate vicinity. Social values refer to the social and cultural meanings that a place of heritage holds for a particular community. This article aims to discuss the influence of tourism on the social values that uphold local communities’ emotional attachment to rock art heritage, using the Huashan rock art area in China as a case study. Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape is the first rock art heritage in China proposed to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and officially obtained World Heritage Status in July 2016. This article argues that many of the changes generated by the endeavour towards tourism promotion by the authorities in their pursuit of World Heritage designation have contributed to the reinforcement of the social values under discussion. However, negative feelings among the communities in response to the undesired consequences of the designation campaign might have resulted in the attenuation of such values. The ultimate goal of the research is to prompt further reflection on existing rock art heritage management mechanisms both in China and worldwide.

heritage; social value; rock art tourism; Huashan; China; UNESCO; World Heritage Site

Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites: Volume 19, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2017
Publication date online27/04/2017
Date accepted by journal27/04/2017
PublisherTaylor and Francis