In the shadow of the Citadel: Haitian national patrimony and vernacular concerns

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2 Scopus citations


A growing number of heritage studies scholars critique top-down approaches to cultural sites of global significance. International and state organizations, they explain, eschew locals’ concerns. We consider the Parc National Historique, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Haiti, Milot. Writers have produced a history that is hierarchical and nationalistic in ideological tone, which policy makers circulate when promoting the Parc. In so doing, they elide the past roles and present-day concerns of Milot’s residents, who have lived in these structures’ shadows for generations. To access them, our ethnographic work documents a vernacular culture-history, which shares common ground with official interests and departs in important ways. Incongruities in practice and discourse stem from locals’ understanding of heritage (eritaj) and experiences of instability (enstabilite). The validation of vernacular concerns makes for a comprehensive understanding of the past. It may also create collaborative opportunities between the community and national (or international) organizations, which can safeguard Haitian patrimony and alleviate socio-economic instabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-73
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Ethnography
  • Haiti
  • heritage and patrimony
  • nationalism
  • vernacular culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology


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