Imagining communities through friction in the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, Laos

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In the heritage site of Luang Prabang, Laos, international and local stakeholders employ the practices and rhetoric of conservation to constitute and reaffirm their belonging to imagined national communities. By negotiating with each other the preservation of old houses and temple rites, French heritage experts reaffirm the role of France as a universal civilizing power, Laotians validate the status of Laos as pearl of unsullied Buddhism, and Thai tourists enhance their status as a modern, progressive nation. While many studies have linked heritage with colonial and national identity, we demonstrate how a single site may serve to confirm multiple national identities through friction with significant cultural others. Heritagization may thus be both a repressive, as well as a creative force in forging dynamically evolving identities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)450-466
Number of pages17
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Laos
  • Luang Prabang
  • World Heritage Site
  • friction
  • imagined communities

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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