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Emerging Heritage Communities in Shantou (Swatow): Transmitters, Experts and Enthusiasts The Chaoshan Region Indigenous ‘Qiaopi’ Museum and the STU Chaoshan Special Collections
Cultural heritage is passed on from generation to generation and refers to the customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values of a community. Heritage is therefore frequently described and measured in terms of significance, things that give meaning to everyday life, carried on from the past to the future. This paper/presentation will focus on two indigenous Culture Heritage projects in Shantou (Swatow): 1. The Qiaopi Museum (侨批文物馆) (Shantou, Guangdong, China). Qiaopi are remittance receipts in the form of family letters from overseas Chinese to their families in China. Qiao means “emigrants” and pi means “letters.” Most of the surviving qiaopi have been preserved by archives in Guangdong and Fujian. In light of their uniqueness, qiaopi and yinxin were recognized in June 2013 as the world’s documentary heritage on the list of the UNESCO Memory of the World. 2 The Shantou University (STU) -Library Chaoshan Special Collections (潮汕特藏网) This paper/presentation will examine how local members of a community are involved in the documentation, interpretation, and management of cultural heritage. It argues that only through such diverse and multiple civil efforts which run counter to the official top-down approach currently in place in many Chinese cities can heritage protection be ensured and ultimately the local culture kept alive. Furthermore,in the second part of this paper/presentation will explore the Chaoshan Special Collections Digital Archive at STU Library especially the Shantou Treaty Port Multi-Media Digital Resource Archive and related sections.