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[Caizhai Lecture] Hang Kan: Preserving cultural heritage and its societal import

APR . 05 2017

Peking University, Apr. 2, 2017: On March 30th, Professor Hang Kan, Dean of School of Archaeology and Museology, spoke on the preservation of cultural heritage and its social significance at the 135th Caizhai Lecture. Caizhai Lecture, also known as Lecture on Research Studies for Graduate Students, is a general course open to postgraduates .

Professor Hang Kan

At the beginning of his lecture, Professor Hang explained to the audience what is heritage. While treasures  from the National Museum of Afghanistan are being set up for exhibition in the glass cabinets of the Palace Museum, their Syrian counterparts are falling apart under the attack of the notorious ISIS. From the two examples, Professor Hang explained that the very word  “heritage”, with its origin in Latin, means assets passed from the father to the offspring and came into use only 100 years ago in the field of heritage preservation.

After a general introduction to the world cultural heritage, intangible cultural heritage, memory heritage and underwater heritage, Professor Hang addressed the reasons of preserving these seemingly “useless” heritages. Quoting from Edward Shils’s Tradition, Professor Hang cautioned his audience against the neglect of the “great past” and the traditions thereof. He also weighed in on the ethnic and, most significantly, national perspectives proposed, respectively, by Wang Xiaobo in his book Natural and Humanistic Landscapes and by President Xi Jinping on boosting China’s soft power and national pride. The protection of cultural heritage from natural elements and human damage is indeed of pressing urgency.

Professor Hang concluded his speech with a look back on the cultural craftsmanship and the cultural communications between ancient China and the world, as well as a look forward to the technical and industrial innovations in preserving our history. He shared his thoughts on the recent event at School of Archaeology and Museology “Finding the Source,” combining archaeology, art and design. Inspired by the design of cultural artifacts at home and abroad, he encouraged the audience to embrace the archaeological discoveries and explore their aesthetic significance in our modern life.

About the lecturer

Professor Hang Kan heads the School of Archaeology and Museology at Peking University and is a leading expert on archeological and museological studies in Song and Yuan Dynasties and Buddhism. 
Written by: Xuan Ben’ang
Edited by: Yan Shengnan
Source: PKU News (Chinese)