29/07/2003 - Comptes rendus

Extraits : (...) Fresnais's book focuses on the laws and administrative structures for the identification and management of those Chinese "cultural objects" (wenwu, biens culturels) officially designated for protection (wenwu baohu danwei). She proceeds in a straightforward manner. The first chapter looks at the pre-1949 era, and introduces the key areas of concern on which the book will focus - archaelogy, museology, management, and preservation. The next two chapters show the development of PRC policy between 1949 and 1999, dividing the period at 1977 into the eras before and after the destruction of the cultural Revolution. Chapter 4 describes the bureaucratic structures responsible for the preservation of designated wenwu, and the next two chapters examine the problems of conservation, maintenance, and restoration. The last chapter examines thoughtfully the contemporary pressures from tourism, urbanization, and development. The result is a full and detailed account that covers a range of related and intertwined developments, both domestic and international, but emphasizes the dramatic and largely encouraging changes of the post-Mao decades. Although Fresnais' framework is the political and economic history of the PRC itself (which will be familiar to students of the People's republic), her particular story of how China handles its cultural patrimony is new and quite fascinating. (...)