Mapping Early Haitian History

1784 map of the Plaine du Nord, showing the locations of the Citadelle Henry and Sans Souci palace, Haiti
1784 map of the Plaine du Nord, showing the locations of the Citadelle Henry and Sans Souci palace

In November, I was in Port-au-Prince for the 30th anniversary conference of the Haitian Studies Association, held at Université Quisqueya. It was a pleasure to be part of one of two panels on the Kingdom of Haiti, where I presented the paper Henry Christophe’s State Coach: Conspicuous Consumption in the Kingdom of Haiti, as part of my ongoing research in to the life of the revolutionary leader and king of Haiti.

As part of that research, when I’ve been in the north of Haiti working on my guidebook for Bradt, I’ve tried to trace as many locations as I can associated with Henry Christophe’s life. I made a walking tour of colonial Cap Français for my own amusement but had put it aside on the assumption that it was a bit too niche for the general guidebook reader. Recently, a Twitter conversation led Marlene Daut to ask me if I would write something up for H-Haiti, part of the H-Net Humanities & Social Sciences blog network.

The blog is something of a follow-up to the photojournal Touring the Haitian Revolution that I did in 2016 for Age of Revolutions. It’s a blend of the mapping and ground-truthing I do as a travel writer, mixed with archive sources like Moreau de Saint-Méry’s 1797 account of Saint-Domingue and the wealth of colonial maps that can be found online through sources like Gallica and the Library of Congress, as well as more contemporary sources like the bulletins of Haitian historic buildings put out by ISPAN, the national heritage organisation.

The article, Mapping Early Haitian History, can be found here.

 

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