In settler nations such as Australia, which have high migrant intakes, a category of cultural heritage practice has emerged that focuses on the material record of immigration. Currently, a nation-bounded approach tends to be taken to the recording and interpretation of this heritage, an approach that largely ignores the transnational social fields to which the immigrants who created the heritage places and buildings belonged. I propose the concept ‘heritage corridor’ to aid in conceptualising the transnational connectivity between migrant heritage sites in Australia and overseas locales as well as the bi-directional flow of ideas and capital that is often materially evident in the built environments, both rural and urban, encompassed by such a corridor. Focusing on Chinese overseas migration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I describe how transnational remittances were instrumental in the building of houses, temples, schools, shops, roads and bridges in Guangdong Province, many of which are now regarded as heritage items. As an example of how the field of heritage studies may productively dialogue with migration studies, new thinking on material agency is drawn upon to account for the way remittance-built houses become entangled in the lives and aspirations of those at opposite poles of a heritage corridor.
Heritage, migration, China, Australia, transnational
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