In Urban Space as Heritage in Late Colonial Cuba, Paul Niell presents a lucid, meticulously researched account of the discursive process of collective heritage production in early nineteenth-century Havana, framed by insightful questions bearing on the contests between competing social groups for ownership of the sites constructed to spatially represent a carefully fabricated local memory. In a detailed, critical examination of El Templete—the civic monument completed in 1828 to commemorate the Caribbean city's founding by the Spanish conquistadores, allegedly under a ceiba tree, on November 16, 1519, and that still today serves multiple identities and interests through periodic, ritual reactivation—Niell argues that this particular effort of heritage invention, localization, and material representation responded to a transcultural process of identity formation, rapid transformation, and modernization in late colonial Havana's heterogeneous and hierarchical society. Erected at a moment of political crisis in Spanish...

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