Xin He

MA work

Title of Dissertation: The Resurgence of Ancestral Halls in Post-Mao China

My dissertation focuses on the newly-built ancestral halls in the Post-Mao era (from the early 1980s onward) of China. During the Maoist-era, the state was trying to eradicate ancestral halls in both the physical and symbolic landscape of the nation. Ancestral halls lost their prerevolutionary significance as community centers, ritual sites and focal points of lineage authority. However, with the ending of Maoist-era and the initiation of Reform and Opening-up policies in the late 1970s, the ancestral hall had enjoyed a momentous revival.

Little attention has been paid to the material culture of the newly built ancestral halls; this dissertation brings the view of history of design into this field, to examine the new ancestral halls’ design and practice. Based on two case studies in Guangdong China, Liede and Zhuji, it shows that the newly-built ancestral halls have come into being though mutual construction between the top-down state and the bottom-up local lineage. Unlike in the Maoist-era, the state power no longer seeks to directly obliterate the space of the ancestor hall but, rather, to reinterpret its social significance, redirect its social usage, and deterritorialize local kinship space; the lineage members strategically adopt the state discourse to win official support and meanwhile, re-establish their local kinship polity. The final design and practice of the ancestral hall is subordinate to the specific situation of the case, depending on which part, either the local government has a greater authority in the case.

Info

  • Xin He profile image
  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Fine Art

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2013

  • Title of Dissertation: The Resurgence of Ancestral Halls in Post-Mao China

    My dissertation focuses on the newly-built ancestral halls in the Post-Mao era (from the early 1980s onward) of China. During the Maoist-era, the state was trying to eradicate ancestral halls in both the physical and symbolic landscape of the nation. Ancestral halls lost their prerevolutionary significance as community centers, ritual sites and focal points of lineage authority. However, with the ending of Maoist-era and the initiation of Reform and Opening-up policies in the late 1970s, the ancestral hall had enjoyed a momentous revival.

    Little attention has been paid to the material culture of the newly built ancestral halls; this dissertation brings the view of history of design into this field, to examine the new ancestral halls’ design and practice. Based on two case studies in Guangdong China, Liede and Zhuji, it shows that the newly-built ancestral halls have come into being though mutual construction between the top-down state and the bottom-up local lineage. Unlike in the Maoist-era, the state power no longer seeks to directly obliterate the space of the ancestor hall but, rather, to reinterpret its social significance, redirect its social usage, and deterritorialize local kinship space; the lineage members strategically adopt the state discourse to win official support and meanwhile, re-establish their local kinship polity. The final design and practice of the ancestral hall is subordinate to the specific situation of the case, depending on which part, either the local government has a greater authority in the case.

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons), Industrial Design, Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University, China, 2011; LLB (Double Degree), Law, School of Law, Tsinghua University, China, 2011
  • Experience

  • Volunteer, Department of Applied Arts, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 2012–present; Translator and assistant, Life and Afterlife in Han China Conference, Cambridge, 2012; Assistant designer, Tsinghua University History Museum, Beijing, 2010
  • Awards

  • Winner, Gardiner Travel Award, Royal College of Art and V&A; Museum, 2012; Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University, 2009 and 2010
  • Publications

  • Dangdai zhongguo zongzu xiguanfa de fusu gengshen, Gao Qicai ( Eds.), Beijing: Law Press China, 2012