Preserving the spirit of the historic city of Macao: Complexity and Contradiction(s)

Imon, Sharif S., DiStefano, Lynne D. and Lee, Ho-Yin (2008) Preserving the spirit of the historic city of Macao: Complexity and Contradiction(s). In: 16th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium: ‘Finding the spirit of place – between the tangible and the intangible’, 29 sept – 4 oct 2008, Quebec, Canada. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

The preservation of an historic urban area is always a complex problem for site managers who are very often concerned with only the tangible dimension of heritage; preserving the spirit of the place is seldom a priority for them. The process is particularly complex in a rapidly growing casino cum World Heritage city like Macao where competing development priorities coupled with constantly changing demographics are posing a unique challenge to those responsible for the protection of the city’s cultural heritage. By drawing references from Macao, this paper argues that a 'preservation' approach to the protection of the spirit of a historic urban area is not only complex but also flawed as this defeats the real meaning of the Spirit of a Place and concludes that the Spirit of a Place is not something to be 'preserved', but rather to be guided through its own evolutionary path.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Imon, Sharif S.
DiStefano, Lynne D.
Lee, Ho-Yin
Languages: English
Keywords: historic town centre; World Heritage List; preservation; spirit of place; intangible heritage; local community; tourists
Subjects: M.WORLD HERITAGE CONVENTION > 03. World Heritage List
O.INTANGIBLE HERITAGE > 01. Generalities
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 13. Historic town centres
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Historic Centre of Macao, China
UNESCO WHC Number: 1110
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2008, 16th
Depositing User: Jose Garcia
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2010 09:20
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2023 13:37
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Government of Macao SAR. Available from; accessed 21 April 2008.

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Lamas, Rosmarie Wank-Nolasco. 1999. History of Macau: A student's manual. Macau: Institute of Tourism Education, 1999.

Lewis, R.W.B. 1995. The City of Florence. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Loh, Laurence. 2007. Conveying the Spirit of Place. In Asia

Conserved: Lessons Learned from the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation (2000-2004), ed. Richard A. Engelhardt and Montira Horayangura Unakul. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok.

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