This is an interesting development coming from China in the realm of cultural heritage. The marketing of foreign cultures for tourism has been a growing industry internationally and has fueled many of the repatriation disputes (would there be such vociferous claims to patrimony rights if there was not the economic incentives of tourism?). This however is a particularly interesting case where living cultures are explicitly being turned into amusement parks.
Having lived in Florence, I can attest to how much a city can be turned into a Disneyland, a place representing an idea and creating an ambiance and thereby becomes a shell of its formers self. These theme parks however seem to be a more overt characterization of cultures and an example of how heritage can be manipulated to reinforce a national identity. As the article points out, “The parks are money-making ventures. But scholars say they also serve a political purpose — to reinforce the idea that the Chinese nation encompasses 55 fixed ethnic minorities and their territories, all ruled by the Han.” The Han majority visit these parks to enjoy the mythical simplicity of the country and the novelty of the traditions of the 55 fixed ethnic minorities. As I think over this issue, I wonder whether there is any corollary in the United States?