Boya Guo

Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design

Boya Guo is a scholar in critical conservation studies and urban studies. Her research areas include the politics of heritage, conservation history and philosophies, the Chinese history of cartography, socialist spatial practices, and the phenomenon of architectural mimicry and themed space in China. In particular, she shares a strong interest in revealing the underlying power structure behind contemporary society’s use of heritage and history, as well as the cultural heterogeneity interacting with the political and social divisions within society. Trained as an urban planner, she is also interested in how cultural powers shape the historic built environment and vice versa in the consumer society and contemporary media-driven time.

Boya’s doctoral dissertation The Problems and Politics of Authenticity in Chinese Heritage Practices examines the power interplay and conflicts between UNESCO’s Outstanding Universal Values, Chinese nationalistic discourses and practices of heritage, and local responses from a perspective of authenticity construction. She is currently working on a book project An Early Modern View: Qianlong’s Plan of Beijing (De Gruyter, 2023/24), about the history of cartography and urban governance in China’s Qing Dynasty that centers around one piece of magnificent urban map—Qianlong Beijing Map (乾隆京城全图).

Beyond her scholarly works, Boya also provides consultancy for many heritage conservation projects and museum exhibition projects in China. Boya received her Doctor of Design degree at the Harvard GSD in 2022. She also holds a Master in Design Studies degree from the Harvard GSD focusing on Critical Conservation, a Bachelor of Engineering degree in urban planning and a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Peking University. Her research have been generously supported by Harvard Asia Center, Fairbank Center of Chinese Studies, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Ash Center China Programs, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, and the Harvard GSD.