by Priyanshi Katare
Erato Li believes that the future of our cultural heritage lies in our ability to diversify the perspectives around it and how we consume it.
“I studied and went to work in different countries so the one thing I really value is diversity. I try to understand different people in different cultural contexts,” she explains, “I think creative industries really need cultural resources.”
Prior to her time at Northwestern’s MSLCE, she studied Heritage Management at the Macao Institute for Tourism studies where she learnt the ins and outs of conserving and preserving culture. During her time as an undergrad student she picked up storytelling — a skill that would prove to be crucial to her future undertakings— while pursuing a class project that examined films produced in Macao and their cultural significance.
“We went through 96 films over the course of two weeks,” she elaborates, “Once we were done we identified the locations they were shot and went and interviewed residents about their lived experiences there.” Using this information she was able to construct the historical layers of the city and demystify Macao as only a gambling city.
However, a trip to Sri Lanka was divisive in the path she would take in this domain. “I was really moved by the way they were praying so devoutly in the Buddhist temple,” she explains. Something that really struck out to her was the value that people attached to these heritages and how that affected the way the heritage was experienced.
She also worked in a lab in Evora, Portugal. During her time here she got the opportunity to work with PhD candidates and got to experience examination of cultural artifacts up close. She worked with cultural churches and the historic artifacts they carried to create a guidance map that tourists could use to plan their time in the city. However, the switch to a more commercially-oriented career and the pursuit of a master’s degree stems from her personal passions.
“ I love collecting earrings from different regions and this got me interested in traditional arts from different countries. I really want to combine the modern elements with the traditional arts,” she elaborates.
Her time at Northwestern would help her bring out the intangible aspects of these sites and be able to place emphasis on the communities that are attached to them and bring awareness around this. She plans to create cultural products that can be sold commercially while interacting with and supporting the communities they represent.