Florence Graezer Bideau
Fields of expertise
Popular culture and cultural policy
Resistance and Innovation in urban space
Critical heritage studies
UNESCO heritage processes in China, Malaysia and Singapore
Intangible Cultural Heritage in Switzerland
Chinese New Towns
BiographySenior Lecturer and Senior Scientist at the College of Humanities and at the School of Architecture, EPFL
Visiting Professor at the Department of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Torino
PhD in History and Civilization (EHESS, Paris)
Director of the Minor in Area and Cultural Studies (MACS) between 2012 and 2016
Member of the Research group Heritage, culture and the city
Associated researcher at the China Room Research Group and South China-Torino Collaboration Lab, Politecnico di Torino
Associate member of the Laboratoire d’anthropologie culturelle et sociale (LACS), UNIL
Member of the EDAR committee (Doctoral Program Architecture and Sciences of the City) at the School of Architecture, Civil and Environment Engineering in EPFL
Florence Graezer Bideau trained as an anthropologist and a sinologist, and received her PhD in History and Civilization in 2005. Before joining the Centre for Area and Cultural Studies (CACS) at EPFL in 2010, she was a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Lausanne, where she taught courses in cultural theory and fieldwork methodology. She is Senior Lecturer and Senior Scientist at the College of Humanities where she teaches area studies, anthropology of China, critical heritage studies and urban studies. She has been acting as Director of the Minor in Area and Cultural Studies between 2012 and 2016 and she is currently a member of the EDAR committee (Doctoral Program Architecture and Sciences of the City) at the School of Architecture, Civil and Environment Engineering in EPFL. Since 2015, Florence has also been Visiting Professor at the Department of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Torino, Italy. Her fields of expertise include anthropology of China, urban sociology, modes of sociability and governmentality.
Florence’s research is on the relation between culture and power (making of cultural policy in China; emergence of maker movement (makerspaces) and politics of innovation in China), heritage issues (process of heritagization and multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore; implementation of the UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Switzerland; historic urban landscape in heritage policy of Beijing, Rome and Mexico City), and the making of the city (informal resistances toward the violence of urbanism in Caracas, Chennai and Guangzhou; uses of public spaces in Chinese new towns).
Le maker, construction d’une figure politique de l’innovation en Chine urbaineEspacesTemps.net. 2020-02-28. DOI : 10.26151/espacestemps.net-t0f8-r859.
Developing interdisciplinary and intercultural skills in engineers through short-term field experiencesInformacios Tarsadalom. 2020-01-01. DOI : 10.22503/inftars.XX.2020.2.1.
Tourisme et patrimoine dans la ville de Malacca, Malaisie: un couple bien assorti?Ethnologies. 2016. DOI : 10.7202/1041588ar.
Vous avez dit: “traditions vivantes urbaines” en Suisse?2019-03-08. Colloque international: Une approche interdisciplinaire du patrimoine culturel immatériel, Museum Fünf Kontinente, Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, Deutschland, Mars 7-8, 2019.
Short-term field study programmes for developing interdisciplinary skills in engineering education2019. SEFI 47th Annual Conference. European Society of Engineering Education. "Varietas delectat...Complexity is the new normality"", Budapest, Hungary, September 16-19, 2019.
Making the city: re-assembling spaces of manufacturing2017. CHI2017.
Urban Scars: From invisible to visible – In Beijing and Mexico City2017. V Congreso Internacional Cidades Criativas, Porto, PORTUGAL, January 25-27, 2017. p. 257-268.
Places in Common: An Ethnography of Public Gatherings in ChinaChina Perspectives. 2021.
Porter le temps. Mémoires urbaines d'un site horlogerGenève: MētisPresses.
Realtime: making digital ChinaLausanne: EPFL Press.
Comparing habitats: Reframing comparison in the “Post-disciplinary” erahttp://contourjournal.org.
Politiques de la tradition. Le patrimoine culturel immatérielLausanne: Presses Polytechniques et universitaires romandes.
Beijing Olympics as Drivers of New Places for Consumption: Promotion of New Lifestyle and Cultural HeritageBeijing22 - Speculative Grounds: Positions on Beijing's transformation; Zurich: tria publishing platform, Zurich–Beijing, 2022.
Une pluralité des formes patrimoniales pour une reconnaissance sur les listes de l'UNESCO, 2002-2020Porter le temps. Mémoires urbaines d'un site horologer; Genève: MētisPresses, 2021-06-11.
Temporalité et savoirs urbains: une recherche située autour d'un processus patrimonialPorter le temps. Mémoires urbaines d'un site horologer; Genève: MētisPresses, 2021-06-11.
Re-creating Memories of Gulou: Three Temporalities and EmotionsPeople-Centered Methodologies for Heritage Conservation: Exploring Emotional Attachment to Historic Urban Places; London and New York: Routledge, 2021.
The Social Life of Heritage-Making: Cultural Representations and FrictionsThe Heritage Turn in China. The Reinvention, Dissemination and Consumption of Heritage; Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020-06-16. p. 314.
Le rôle des experts dans la création de l’inventaire du patrimoine culturel immatériel en SuisseLe patrimoine culturel immatériel au seuil des sciences sociales. Actes du colloque de Cerisy-la-Salle, septembre 2012; Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2020-05-12. p. 324.
Planning: from model to modulesRealtime: making digital China; Lausanne: EPFL Press, 2020.
Comparing habitats. Reframing comparison in the “post - disciplinary” eraComparing habitats: Reframing comparison in the “Post-disciplinary” era; Lausanne: Contour journal for interdisciplinary research in architecture, design and planning, 2019-09-12.
Shaping Urbanity: Politics and NarrativesThe City after Chinese New Towns: Spaces and Imaginaries from Contemporary Urban China; Basel: Birkhäuser, 2019.
Historic Urban Landscape in Beijing: The Gulou Project and Its Contested MemoriesChinese Heritage in the Making: Experiences, Negotiations and Contestations; Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018. p. 298.
Resistance to places of collective memories: A rapid Transformation Landscape in BeijingThe Palgrave Handbook of Urban Ethnography; London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. p. 259-278.
Regards sur les politiques du PCI en SuissePatrimoine culturel immatériel; Liège: Presses universitaires de Liège, 2017. p. 317-328.
Memory and historic urban landscapes: An interdisciplinary research in Mexico-City, Rome and Beijing2017
In the [Big] Hybrid Cities. How the Concept of Hybridization helps us to understand the production of urban space, architecture and urbanism in the Global South2017
The resistance of stone: thick and fragmented urban collective memory in GulouDigitalization of Memory in China, Bonn, Germany, 21-22 September 2022.
Mega Event Reinforced Industrial Heritage Transformation: A typological matrix between narratives and practicesTICCIH 2022 Industrial Heritage Reloaded, Montreal, Canada, 28 August - 3 September 2022.
Avalanche et UNESCO : rien à voir ?Festival International du Film Alpin (FIFAD), Diablerets, Suisse, August 13-20, 2022.
Porter le temps: mémoires urbaines du Locle et de la Chaux-de-FondsThe production of urban memory: an interdisciplinary roundtable, Milano, Italy, May 26, 2022.
Uses of Cultural Heritage: The iconic case of ShougangDialogue on Winter Olympic Games. From Beijing to Milan: Design Innovations for Sustainability, Virtual Event, May 12, 2022.
Le Locle/La Chaux-de-Fonds: Public histories and industrial heritage in contemporary citiesOpen Fields Lunch–Productive habitats, Lausanne, Switzerland, April 14, 2022.
Governance of Heritage and Creativity: an introductory frameworkGoverning Heritage and Creativity: frictions, avenues and questions, Rome, Italy, April 4-5, 2022.
Comment les nouvelles technologies peuvent-elles contribuer à la valorisation du patrimoine culturel dans les pays émergeants ?Salon des Technologies et de l’Innovation de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2022-03-10.
Rumba congolaise et enjeux de l'inscription au patrimoine culturel immatériel de l'UNESCOTable ronde at the Black Movies Festival, Genève, 27.01.2022.
Les anthropologues face aux "traditions vivantes": l'exemple suisseColloque international Nommer / Normer : Approches pluridisciplinaires du patrimoine culturel immatériel, Paris, France, November 25-26, 2021.
Reframing Heritage, Creativity and InnovationHeritage, Creativity and Innovation Nexus: an international workshop, Lausanne, Switzerland, November 4-5, 2021.
La Suisse en inventaire : politiques de sauvegarde du PCIPatrimoine culturel immatériel : Cadres international et national, réseaux, territoires, Vitré, France, 12-13 octobre 2021.
Beijing Winter Olympic Games 2022: ecological civilization as a new step for extended urbanization to enhance consumptionThe 2021 annual conference of the International Sociological Association Research Committee 21 on Urban and Regional Development (RC21 Conference): Sensing the city, [Online edition] Antwerpen, Belgium, July 14-16, 2021.
Explorer la micropolitique de transformation à Pékin : le patrimoine culturel vu à travers le prisme de la mémoire collective d’un quartier historiqueAssises de l’Anthropologie des Mondes Chinois, Paris, France, Juin 16-18, 2021.
Nurturing the socialist spiritual civilization: Interplay between anthropology and politicsSwiss Anthropological Association Annual Meeting Reviewing “the field”: contemporary debates and approaches to fieldwork, Ascona, Switzerland, April 22-24, 2021.
Cultivating public space and yangge danceSymposium XJTLU Public Space Forum, Suzhou, PRC, Live Zoom Event.
Heritage as new social engineering in China: a re-colonializing perspectiveHeritage and Decoloniality: the Geneva exchanges, Geneva, Suisse, October 21-22, 2021.
Ville éphémère : la Fête des Vignerons aujourd’hui et demainEcosystème de Lavaux. Lavaux Patrimoine mondial, Grandvaux, Suisse, November 5, 2019.
Cultural heritage, leisure and Beijing Olympic Winter Games 2022Workshop at the Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design , Beijing, PRC, October 28, 2019.
Creative Communities A Landscape of Spaces and PracticesThe Chinese University of Hong Kong Global Studies Program, EPFL, Switzerland, June 11, 2019.
Historic Urban Landscape as an opportunity for change? Evidence from BeijingGlobalized Heritage in Asia: regional articulations, silences, contestations, Université de Genève, Suisse, May 24, 2019.
Carouge et le principe de la proximitéInvention de Carouge 50 ans après. Entre histoire, théorie et ethnographie urbaines, Fondation Braillard Architectes, Université de Genève, Genève, Suisse, Mai 21-23, 2019.
André Corboz, un portrait intellectuelInvention de Carouge 50 ans après. Entre histoire, théorie et ethnographie urbaines, Genève, Suisse, Mai 21-23, 2019.
Entangled Memories in the Bell and Drum Towers in BeijingACC Lecture Architecture: conjectures and refutations, Politecnico di Torino, Italy, March 14, 2019.
Encountering cultures of making in China: narratives and practices of co-creative communities#Chinacreative: Users, Makers, Dreamers, a Workshop on Vernacular Creativity and Beyond, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 4-5, 2018.
Re-creating Memories of Gulou: Three Temporalities and EmotionsAssociation of Critical Heritage Studies 4th Biennal conference, Heritage Across Boarders, Hangzhou, China, September 1-6, 2018.
Inventories without archives: the list of “Living Traditions in Switzerland”Archiving Intangible Cultural Heritage & Performing Arts – a Symposium for Living Traditions, Artlab, EPFL, Lausanne, August 6-7, 2018.
Looking at Corboz from an anthropological perspectiveTable-ronde Revisiting André Corboz: methods, challenges, potentials, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Accademia di Architectura, Mendrisio, Switzerland, Octobre 29, 2018.
Heritage in the Making: a genealogy of successive attempts for UNESCO listsPublic Seminar Memory and the city: An ongoing collective research on the Unesco site of Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds, Politecnico di Torino, Italy, June 27, 2017.
Redéfinitions du patrimoine culturel par les marges : Résistances à la Recommandation sur les paysages historiques dans le quartier de Gulou, BeijingColloque International Le Patrimoine Mondial : une valeur universelle exceptionnelle ?, Centre des Monuments nationaux, Cité de Carcassonne, France, 4-5 Décembre, 2017.
The thickness and fragmentation of urban collective memory: the “resistance of the stones” in Gulou, BeijingInternational Symposium on Anthropology undergoing the evolution of communities, Beijing, PRC, September 23, 2017.
The Practices of World Heritage-Making: Chinese National Hegemony and UNESCO NarrativesLecture series Master Degree in Architecture Construction City, Turin, Italy, May 17, 2017.
Focus Group Discussion on Hybrid Cities How the Concept of Hybridization helps us to understand the production of urban space, architecture and urbanism in the Global South.Focus Group Discussion on Hybrid Cities How the Concept of Hybridization helps us to understand the production of urban space, architecture and urbanism in the Global South., Anna University, Chennai, India, January 24, 2017.
Urban Scars, Ghosts and Collective Memories : Heritage and Resistance to Patrimonialization in Beijing and Mexico CitySchool of Architecture / Anna University, Chennai, India, January 27, 2017.
Cartographier les mémoires collectives à Gulou ou la difficulté d’allier les volontés politiques et les voix populaires dans le centre historique de PékinSéminaire de l'Institut d'Asie Orientale, ENS-Lyon, France, Novembre 17, 2016.
Architecture and Resistance: Theory, Methods and ProjectsChinese New Towns (project), Torino, Politecnico di Torino, Italy, June 15, 2016.
Beijing Danwei: from the Memory of the City to New Regeneration PlansForum Architecture in China and Italy: From Ancient Towns to Low-Carbon Towns, Firenze, Italy, March 18, 2016.
China: current social issuesConference, Master degree in Architecture Construction City: Designing collective place in a Chinese new town, Politecnico di Torino, Italy, May 11, 2015.
Les curiosités du Léman. Les pontons: un potentiel inexploité2022
Observatoire ornithologique de Vidy. Surélévation au cœur d’une réserve aménagée entre terre et lac, dans la partie Ouest du parc Louis Bourget à Vidy (Lausanne Sud)2022
Colline de la Muraz à Nyon – Alternative de densification urbaine par la transposition de préceptes spatiaux japonais2022
Vivre seuls ensemble. Une architecture à usage mixte et communautaire à la Servette2022
Construction vernaculaire d’une auberge dans les montagnes en Chine2022
Préventorium Le Rosaire: un espace sensible à la fragilité2022
Un refuge longue durée-Les saisonniers comme nouvelle société nomade2021
Habitat Néo Rural, Biorégion de la Calanca: construction d’un scénario d’habitat humain alternatif à partir d’un territoire rural à l’abandon2021
Un eco-quartier dans la ville de Bukavu2021
Part’âge: logements mixtes et évolutifs à Chêne-Bougeries (Genève)2021
Datchnikis urbains: les jardins habités de Moscou2020
Enracinée de l'autre côté. Centre culturel arbëreshë à Hora e Arbëreshëve, Sicile2020
Comparing Habitats. International PhD Seminar2018
Hutongs-Transformations: A Battle between memories2015
Shougang ou la nouvelle icône du patrimoine industriel chinois2022-03-25.
JO de Pékin: l'urbanisation des montagnes par le tourisme2022-02-07.
“China intends to fill the void in a world characterized by a vacuum of values”2021-10-01.
culture and power
- Makerspaces: politics and communities of innovation in contemporary China (2016-2019)
Funded by the SNSF, this project is lead by Dr. Florence Graezer Bideau in collaboration with Dr. Marc Laperrouza, Monique Bolli and Clément Renaud (Iags, EPFL). It investigates the social, technical and commercial attributes of key Chinese makerspaces and their communities in three Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen). While limited in size and scope, makerspaces and the maker movement in general offer a very rich environment to study much broader social, political and economic transformations taking place in contemporary China. It aims to shed light on how a bottom-up and autonomous movement responds to the co-opting of the State and to discuss the Chinese government’s plasticity and capacity to engage with emerging classes.
- Cultural policy in China in the 20th century (1995-2005)
Funded by several institutions (Mobility Grant between the University of Lausanne and Peking, Cantonal Grant of the Swiss Universities Central Office, and SNSF), this doctoral project was developed in China (Institute of Sociology and Anthropology, Peking University, Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing), Australia (Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU, Canberra) and France (China Centre (CECMC), EHESS, Paris). The construction of cultural policy made up the core of my Ph.D. research in Beijing and Shaanxi Province between 1995 and 2000. I explored it through the detailed study of the practice of yangge, a traditional folk dance ritual banned during the Cultural Revolution but is now practiced once again under China's reform policy. The practice of yangge allowed me to reflect on issues of popular culture in 20th-century China and analyze the processes of selection and categorization of cultural elements essential to cultural policy at the national level. Central to my training as an anthropologist and a sinologist, this research on the development of cultural policy and the use of popular culture provided the starting point for my current work on intangible cultural heritage and heritagization at different national and international levels.
heritage- Memory and the city: assessing tools for interdisciplinary research and teaching (2016-2018)
Funded by the Compagnia San Paolo and Politecnico di Torino, this project is lead by Pr.Filippo De Pieri and Dr. Florence Graezer Bideau in collaboration with Prof. Alessandro Armando and Dr. Davide Vero (DAD at PoliTo) and Dr. Yves Pedrazzini, Prof. Nicola Braghieri, Dr. Lesslie Herrera and Lucia Bordone (Lasur, Lapis and Iags at EPFL). The research aims to assess and experiment research tools for the study of the relationship between collective memory, urban space, and design in contemporary cities. It stems from previous empirical and collaborative experiences between PoliTo and EPFL in the study of urban collective memories. By scrutinizing the two cities of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle jointly inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2009, the project aims to respond to the widely felt need to elaborate innovative research paths concerning the methodology and the goals of research on urban memory. Memory studies have gained an increasing presence in the research and teaching activities of European technical schools, in parallel with the growing role played by tangible and intangible heritage in processes of urban/architectural transformation. The project explores the ways in which memory studies can represent a challenge and opportunity for ‘Polytechnic’ research and education, forging links between different fields of knowledge such as architectural design, urban history, sociology and anthropology, visual studies, mapping.
- Mapping controversial memories in the historic urban landscape : a multidisciplinary study of Beijing, Mexico City and Rome (2015-2017)
Funded by the SNIS, this project is lead by Dr. Florence Graezer Bideau in collaboration with Dr. Yves Pedrazzini, Lesslie Herrera, Lucia Bordone (EPFL) and scholars in HES-Sierre, Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage à Beijing, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana –Iztapalapa à Mexico City, Politecnico Torino, Tsinghua University, Roma 2 and Roma 3. The research aims to produce a comparative, multidisciplinary study on the impact of UNESCO’s Recommendation on the historic urban landscape, (RHUL 2011), which seeks to integrate conservation and development in urban policy. The project addresses three questions in Beijing, Mexico City and Rome.
1) Which memorial references are mobilized by local actors in their historical urban landscape?
2) To what extent does the perception of collective-memory overlap with the existing local implementation of heritage conservation policies?
3) Which potential approach for the recognition of plural memories within the RHUL best underpins attachment to urban territories?
Combining methods from urban sociology, cultural anthropology and visual modeling, this project strives to contribute a better understanding of so-called collective memory dynamics and controversies that are emerging in these historic cities. The research encompasses popular understanding of uses of heritage, official norms and regulations as well as controversies produced by the mismatch of practice and discourse at the different levels of analysis: local; national; and international.
- Implementation of the UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Switzerland: an ethnography of cultural bureaucracy in the federalist context (2009-2012, 2012-2014)
Financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Sinergia Projects "Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Midas Touch?"and "Intangible Cultural Heritage: Whispered Words", directed by Prof. Ellen Hertz, University of Neuchâtel), this project followed the implementation of the UNESCO Convention, ratified by the Swiss Confederation in 2008. Using ethnographic methodology, complemented by a thorough mastery of the relevant documents and policy decision, this project explored how this new international cultural policy was applied in Switzerland and what effects it produced on Swiss conceptions of, and mobilization around, local, regional and national cultural forms. By surveying the process of cataloging intangible cultural heritage at various levels (local, cantonal, federal and international) - with a special focus on moments of definition and selection, (selection criteria, user guides, the use of outside expertise, the reference to "civil society") - this project shed new light on the nature of the relationship between state and society in the field of culture, the commodification or reification of cultural expressions and traditions, and the emergence of new forms of nationalism linked with folklorization. Adopting a broadly based comparative approach, this project not only explored Swiss cultural policy from a new angle - "intangible cultural heritage" - but also considered more comprehensively the effects of the UNESCO Convention on cultural policies worldwide.
- Multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and making heritage in Malaysia: overview from the Straits of Malacca (2006-2011)
Begun in the context of the French-speaking Swiss Graduate Programme in Socio-Cultural Anthropology (CUSO) and funded by the University of Lausanne (Research Grant of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences’ Dean office), this project was carried out in collaboration with Prof. Mondher Kilani (Laboratoire d’anthropologie culturelle et sociale, University of Lausanne) between 2006 and 2011. It was a reflection on multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism in Malaysia and revolved around the perceptions and representations of tangible and intangible cultural heritage within the three main communities of the Federation (Malay, Chinese and Indian) using a series of case studies in George Town (Penang), Melaka, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The comparative analysis of these distinct processes of heritagization highlighted political, economical, social, religious and cultural issues linked to the Malaysian "rainbow nation", while also drawing attention to some of the problems inherent in the apparently universal UNESCO framework (contradictions between tangible and intangible heritage, commodification of living culture, consequences of gentrification, etc.).
making of the city
- Hybrid cities: Informal Resistances to the Violence of Urbanization in China, India and Venezuela (2016-2019)
Funded by the SNSF, the project is lead by Dr. Yves Pedrazzini (LAsur, EPFL) in collaboration with Dr. Florence Graezer Bideau, Salomé Houllier, Caroline Iorio (EPFL) and scholars in Politecnico di Torino, Anna University in Chennai, Instituto de Estudios Avanzados and Fundación Caracas and South China University of Technology in Guangzhou. As both a science and an ideology, contemporary urbanism induces a violence of urbanization. This is usually done in the name of formal planning of territory at the expense of informal settlements. The latter resist this formalization and their scheduled deletion, sometimes resorting to violence. In some cases this confrontation overcomes the duality between formal and informal. The confrontation of two icons of the modern city, the informal slum and the formal skyscraper, produces hybrid structures, objects, and details that move towards a new urbanism; our current cities are built by architectural, urban, territorial and social hybridization. This process creates an innovative and critical approach to the modern models of formal urbanization that seems to persecute the inhabitants of informal settlements, giving rise to resistance movements. These modalities vary widely across differing geopolitical contexts, which is why we work in three large urban areas simultaneously – Chennai in India, Guangzhou in China and Caracas in Venezuela. These we consider as separate expressions of a process that is global and complex; a process within which social struggles and urban problems bind closely through the development of new contradictions, all of which takes place at the heart of the city.
– Chinese New Towns: negotiating citizenship and physical form (2015-2017)
Funded by the Politecnico di Torino, the CeNTO project lead by Prof. Michele Bonino (Department of Architecture and Design) looks at the construction of the “third-generation” of Chinese New Towns that will host another 300 million rural Chinese migrating to urban areas over the next 20 years. Conditioned by certain new key-words promoted by the Chinese government - such as “innovation”, “sustainability”, “inclusive growth” - this research investigates how, through the lens of architecture and urban design, physical form, can reveal experimental processes of the negotiation of both citizenship and social identity. It also explores how Chinese New Towns have appropriated urban models from different contexts.
Teaching & PhD
Humanities and Social Sciences Program
Doctoral Program in Architecture and Sciences of the City