Tropical Geography ›› 2020, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (4): 732-743.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003257

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Construction of Sense of Place and Rural Governance:A Case Study of Chaoshan Ancestral Hall

Yuangcheng Lin1(), Ren Yang2(), Qiuping Lai3, Min Wang1   

  1. 1.School of Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    2.School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    3.School of Teacher Education, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2020-02-19 Revised:2020-06-18 Online:2020-07-31 Published:2020-08-11
  • Contact: Ren Yang;


In the vast rural areas of southern China, ancestral halls, being material space carriers with common historical culture and value identification as the core, play an important role in the cultural shaping and governance of rural society. However, with the rapid spread of modern elements and modern culture, many Chaoshan rural areas are facing the dilemma of cultural identity and cultural confidence. What kind of cultural identity, local affiliation, and emotional expression do Chaoshan ancestral halls bearing local culture and local significance have in the daily practice of local subjects? How to construct the local meaning around Chaoshan ancestral hall and then realize the cultural space with multiple connotations? On the path of seeking cultural confidence in rural areas, what is the internal logic of Chaoshan ancestral hall and rural governance, and how to achieve the revitalization and co-governance of rural regional space? These are questions worth thinking about and exploring further. In view of the same, this article researches the breakthrough point, with Chaoshan ancestral hall and its links to the local villagers, ancestral hall management personnel, and grass-roots workers as the research objects. We used the network file analysis, in-depth interview, and questionnaire-based survey research methods, exploring the Chaoshan ancestral hall where the construction process and the culture mechanism to better resolve the Chaoshan multi-agent ancestral hall and the village of dialogue and interaction. First, Chaoshan ancestral hall, as a material entity connecting and maintaining rural social network, plays a significant role in shaping the sense of place of rural spatial subjects. To be specific, Chaoshan ancestral halls have formed rooted cultural identity and shaped common symbols, cultural concepts, and behavioral norms in the long-term historical evolution, which act on local cognition, emotion, and intention, making Chaoshan ancestral halls continuously strengthen local perception and local practice of rural subjects. Additionally, Chaoshan ancestral hall has become a very local physical landscape in rural areas through localization and stability of architectural form, highlighting local characteristics, and local significance in increasingly homogeneous rural areas. The construction of locality is a process from material to spiritual, the “time and space” of Chaoshan ancestral hall represents the transformation from materiality to spirituality, and the meaningless place is shaped into a place with roots and attributes. The cultural confidence in rural areas is in an urgent need of the construction of local identity and local attachment so as to realize the transformation of rural areas from being culturally “lost” to culturally “rooted”. The interaction between Chaoshan ancestral hall and many subjects in rural areas forms a sense of place, which provides an emotional and cultural basis for rural governance. Admittedly, rural regional space has its own complexity, so rural governance is bound to be multi-subject, multi-dimensional consultation, and co-governance. Based on local culture and material function, multi-subject creation is an important mode of rural governance. Clan council derived from Chaoshan ancestral hall plays an irreplaceable role in coordinating and dealing with rural affairs.

Key words: sense of place, rural governance, place significance, cultural space, Chaoshan ancestral hall

CLC Number: 

  • K901.6