Theses Master's

The Third-Front City of Panzhihua: Narratives, Policy, and Preservation in China

Liu, Ziyu

The thesis delves into the historical context and contemporary preservation strategies surrounding China’s urban heritage of the Cold War era, in particular the City of Panzhihua. The thesis framework builds on the social-spatial context of post-1949 China, developing around the topic of the Third Front Movement (1964-1988), which reflected the country’s commitment to national security and industrial progress during the Cold War era. Taking the city of Panzhihua, located in the remote southwest of China and a notable accomplishment of the movement, as a case study, the thesis delves deeper into the extent of local involvement in preservation efforts and the challenges they encounter. This investigation sheds light on more fundamental challenges within China's historic preservation policies, especially concerning heritage sites from recent history that touch upon politically sensitive subjects.

The thesis examines the interacting narratives of the national preservation policies and the local responses. It analyzes the strategies employed by the central government to manage heritage preservation and utilization since 1949, focusing on "Red Heritage" as a political tool used to reinforce the Chinese Communist Party's overarching narrative. Locally, through interviews with stakeholders in Panzhihua’s Hemenkou and Lanjian communities, the research identifies significant influences of the Communist Party on local governance and preservation decisions.

In summarizing the research findings, the author calls for a revised interpretation of social values and community engagement patterns that diverge from traditional neoliberal advocacy concepts. Within the Chinese context, the study reveals a cyclical reinforcement between cultural propaganda and its local practices. It also highlights the complex role played by local government entities in influencing and implementing these processes, as revealed by the preservation practices of Panzhihua’s Third Front heritage.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Avrami, Erica C.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
May 29, 2024