Accessibility statement

Xuanlin Liu

Research project

Living heritage in post-nomadism: change and continuity of Ger in contemporary Inner Mongolia, China

Supervisor: Professor John Schofield

Central to the concept of 'home' is the physical dwelling itself, but traditions and attitudes towards housing differ widely between cultural regions and through time. One of the oldest traditions of housing still in use anywhere today is the ger, which has a tradition stretching back to the beginning of nomadism. Like any good home, a ger is not just the sum of its building material, but also a cornerstone of its occupant's everyday lifestyles and traditions. As nomadism comes under threat to settled ways of life, some institutions have sought to conserve the ancient knowledge and skills of ger making, including the Chinese government and UNESCO. However, preserving the ger is especially complicated in Inner Mongolia, where it is part of social-cultural negotiations of tourism and modernity. Today, the Inner Mongolian ger results from a compromise between political policies, assets bargaining, and varied community needs.

The research used Grounded Theory guiding to collect the data by doing semi-interviews, observation and NVivo analysis. It was conducted throughout four representative areas in Inner Mongolia (Hulun Buir, Xinlinhot, Chifeng and Hohhot), interviewed 99 people, including nomads, officials, factory owners, and brokers and observed varied gers in museums, cities and grasslands.

The story of the changing ger as cultural heritage is the story of changing lives in post-nomadic communities. Research into ger illuminates practices of constructing dwellings that lose their initial purpose. Reading the ger reveals the mystery of contemporary nomadic culture. This research makes voices for nomads and other marginalised communities in Inner Mongolia, which support their rights to use their cultural ideas. Moreover, nomadic heritage is in a gap in the current academia of cultural heritage, and my research will comprehend the understanding of Asian heritage in nomadism.

 Funding: Joint- funded PhD scholarship, China Scholarship Council & the University of York




PhD Candidate in Archaeology, the University of York (Since 2019)

MPhil in Archaeological Heritage and Museums, University of Cambridge

MSc in Sustainable Heritage, University College London

MA in Promotional Media, Goldsmiths College, University of London

BA in Communication, China Agricultural University


Affiliate of UNESCO Bangkok

Member of ICOMOS China

Member of Association of Critical Heritage Studies

CEO of Nuur EcoTech. Ltd.Co.

Joined Projects:

Word Heritage Youth Camp in Thailand, UNESCO Bangkok & Thailand Government (2018)

Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Awards, UNESCO Bangkok (2018)

Asia-Pacific Preventing Illicit Tricking, UNESCO Bangkok (2018)

River Stars Reindeer, Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (2016)

UCL & Heritage Malta (2014)


GTA, Seminars for ‘Designing Research’ (2021)


Publications & Conferences

  • Book Review: 2022. Grassroots values and local cultural heritage in China, International Journal of Heritage
  • Book Review: 2021. Heritage politics in China: the power of the past, Asian Pacific Journal of Anthropology
  • ‘Re-examing the discourse of vitalising heritage in China.’ Association of Critical Heritage Studies Fifth Biannual Conference, UCL, August 2020
  • ‘The end of ICH or a living heritage? The case of Mongolian Ger in China.’ ICOMOS General Assembly, Advisory Committee Meeting & Scientific Symposium ‘Rural Heritage-Landscape and beyond’, Marrakesh, Morocco, 12th- 18th October 2019
  • ‘Reconceptualising Intangible Cultural Heritage: the case of Mongolian Ger, Inner Mongolia of China.’ Association of Critical Heritage Studies Fourth Biannual Conference, HangZhou, China, 1st – 6th September 2018
  • Translation: Vejo-Rose, D., 2019. Cultural heritage and memory: untangling the ties that bind in Heritage. Translated by Liu, X.L. Nanjing: Nanjing University Press

Organised Conferences:

  • Chaired a sub-session ‘World Heritage: Community Empowerment through Innovation’ at 44th UNESCO World Heritage Young Professionals Forum, Fuzhou (online), China, July 2021
  • Orgniased a curated session ‘living heritage, re-conceptualising heritage future?’ for 11 international scholars (with Dr Kelechi Ugwuanyi), at Association of Critical Heritage Studies Fifth Biennial Conference, UCL, August 2020

Xuanlin Liu profile photo

Contact details

Xuanlin Liu
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor