Since 2005, China's government has designated seventy-two inoperative state-owned coal, mineral, and oil shale mines as parks. This redevelopment is intended to attract tourist spending and new business to municipalities with underperforming economies and degraded environments. It is also part of China’s program to build an “ecological civilization” that balances economic growth, environmental protection, and concern for people’s quality of life.
If China’s national mine parks follow the trends found at industrial heritage sites around the world, they offer interpretations and experiences that 'improve' history and nature for visitors by displacing the political and economic decisions that caused environmental pollution, layoffs, and socioeconomic decline. One goal of the research is to draw attention to the class implications of this process.
The project hope to contribute to a literature that looks critically at tourism initiatives, and question the received wisdom that tourism brings benefits to local communities. Finally, the project also want to contribute to our understanding of an ‘ecological civilisation’ as a goal and a lived practice.