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From Hutong to Hostels: Cultural Tourism and the Process of Commodification in Beijing

Macasek, Jennifer S. (2010) From Hutong to Hostels: Cultural Tourism and the Process of Commodification in Beijing. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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As Beijing develops into a global city, high-rise banking and apartment buildings appear almost daily, while historical hutong neighborhoods have been destroyed to accommodate this development. At the same time, hutong tourism has become popular with Chinese and foreign tourists. While some have advocated tourism in the hutong as a strategy to ensure preservation and economic development, others argue that attention from tourists will inevitably change the lives of hutong residents. As the hutong are reconstructed through tourism, new cultural forms are produced under the ideal of "authenticity." These forms both reflect existing cultural values and produce new cultural possibilities. This paper analyzes the development of cultural tourism in the hutong based on ethnographic observations, secondary sources, and email interviews with hutong tourism business owners. My argument does not focus on whether the commodification of the hutong is inherently good or bad, but rather on the production and uses of authenticity in the hutong as well as interpretations of that ideal by different people at different times. I suggest that the debates over hutong tourism development in the capital illuminate the lack of consensus in Chinese discourse about what modern China is and ought to be.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Macasek, Jennifer
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLukacs, Gabriellalukacs@pitt.eduLUKACS
Committee MemberRen,
Committee MemberLiu, Xinminxinmin@pitt.eduXINMIN
Committee MemberOum, Young Raeyroum@pitt.eduYROUM
Date: 13 May 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 4 March 2010
Approval Date: 13 May 2010
Submission Date: 20 April 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: authenticity; Beijing; commodification; cultural tourism
Other ID:, etd-04202010-124515
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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