Chinese Community Heritage

Welcome to our Community Heritage Hub, where you can learn about the exciting new heritage work we are promoting.

Bringing Heritage to Life

The Future of Heritage

The term “community heritage” encompasses a wide range of heritage-based perspectives and activities developed and run by communities themselves. It is a term widely used to describe groups of people working to preserve tangible and intangible aspects of their local culture.

The Chinese Community have a deep attachment to their heritage and enjoy a rich culture and in many ways it has been what gave us strength and cohesion as we settled here in Northern Ireland. However the picture we project to others often goes not further than the colourful and perhaps cliched representation of Chinese culture in our restaurants and take aways. We would love to give people a deeper and more interesting experience of a heritage that stretched back millennia.

We have been in Northern Ireland as a community for over 50 years and that experience of settling, mixing with local cultures and communities has created its own rich heritage – a very distinct Northern Irish Chinese community heritage. As a community we have been working hard and putting down roots here and haven’t really had the time to explore this our even our native Chinese heritage properly. It is only when we see first generation folk get older that we realise now is the time to reflect and record.

For our own younger people who are often torn between their family traditions and modern Western culture it is beneficial to see them learn about their heritage and to be able to explore it using new technology and digital platforms. It will help our own community as a whole to develop and integrate as we consider our own story – our history here and what we see as valuable and worth passing on as heritage.

Heritage here can often be a confusing contested space with the two main traditions taking centre stage. Therefore as we make new space for newer communities who each have a story to tell we hope our community heritage will be a guide to other ethnic minority groups in society. We see it as a catalyst for other communities and for wider change which help us all understand each other better and include one another more, developing tolerance for and pride in our diversity. We believe here is what what we make of it, and our heritage is our story of how we relate our past to our here and now.

Introducing Community Heritage

Now a word from the experts, who work tirelessly to put heritage on the agenda and to promote and protect it locally. They have already been an amazing help to us on our journey of discovery. A word of introduction from Paul Mullan Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Northern Ireland.

Paul worked at the National Trust where he spent time as both area manager and acting regional director. At the NLHF he has taken a lead in their work around the Decade of Centenaries and had a particular knowledge of the role of heritage in a divided society. He chairs the Decade of Centenaries Roundtable, which includes a number of organisations including universities, museums, various public bodies as well as community groups. He is a member of the Irish Government’s Expert Advisory Committee on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage and is on the board of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

What is Community Heritage?

The term “Community Heritage” is widely used to describe groups of people working to preserve tangible and intangible aspects of their local culture. For the Chinese Community cultural heritage is central to their sense of identity. For us community heritage means the work we do understanding, protecting then promoting our native Chinese or Hong Kong heritage then making it sustainable and accessible to others.

We have been working with heritage experts and consultants like LEXXER Solutions, other heritage and cultural tourism organisations which focus on the traditions of the two main communities and also our friends in other ethnic minority groups to get a better understanding of what heritage is and what specifically community heritage is and how it will work in our context.

Community Heritage, we realise differs from built heritage and environment and archaeology which are often in the forefront of our idea of heritage. Instead community heritage operates at a more local level with local archives and libraries, historical societies, social/health-facing activities, and the performative arts among other things. These are the elements that constitute a “sense of place” and can bring a community together through their shared interest in and engagement with local heritage for local benefit.

Therefore while we aim to safeguard and celebrate our local heritage we also aim to empower local communities to better manage their local cultural and heritage resources.