2009 Creole Corridor Symposium

Overview of Saturday, November 7, 2009 Presentations:
HERB STOVEL (Moderator and Heritage Conservation Programme, Carleton University): Meeting UNESCO requirements for the inclusion of the “French Creole Properties of the Mid-Mississippi Valley Corridor” on the World Heritage List

JAY EDWARDS (Professor of Anthropology, Louisiana State University, and director of the Fred B. Kniffen Cultural Resources Lab): The Place of Upper Louisiana’s French Vernacular Architecture in the French Colonial World

ROBERT MOORE (Adjunct professor, Washington University’s University College): Déterminé l’Effacement: The French Creole Cultural Zone in the American Heartland

CARL EKBERG (Professor of History Emeritus, Illinois State University): Sui Generis: Landscape, Community and Mentalité in the Illinois Country

JAY GITLIN (Lecturer in History and the Associate Director of the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders at Yale University): A Place Beyond Words: Using the French Creole Corridor to Redefine the Terms of Early American History

PETER KASTOR (Associate Professor of History and American Culture Studies, Washington University in St. Louis): Governing Others: Inventing the American Notion of Empire

STAMOS METZIDAKIS (Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Washington University in St. Louis): From Riverbank to Riverbank: Desperately seeking French America

CHRISTOPHE RIVET (Planner, Parks Canada Agency, and Project Manager, World Heritage nomination proposal for Grand Pré): Working Towards a UNESCO Nomination Proposal for Grand Pré: Outstanding Universal Value, Multiple Stakeholders, and the Challenges of Protecting a Living Cultural Landscape

Detailed Biographies of Speakers:

HERB STOVEL, Moderator
Herb Stovel’s paper will attempt to provide an overview of the basic requirements for inscribing a cultural heritage nomination on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and apply these requirements to the specific nature of the property proposed by Les Amis for inclusion on the List in general, cultural heritage properties nominated to the World Heritage List must possess outstanding universal value (as demonstrated through the choice of criteria, and in comparison with similar properties); they must meet the qualifying conditions of authenticity and integrity; and their management arrangements must assure long term protection of the defined outstanding universal value. The paper will review key issues in assessing how the nomination addresses these requirements including the rationale underlying choice of the selected components, the geographic distribution, size and boundaries of the nominated zones, the size of associated buffer zones, the nature of the site’s claim to outstanding universal value, the choice of applicable criteria, comparative analysis with similar properties, authenticity and integrity of the nominated property, nature and adequacy of management measures.

Herb Stovel is one of the foremost national and international experts in the heritage conservation field today. Trained as an architect (McGill U., 1972), and with graduate studies in conservation in Edinburgh and Rome, Stovel acts today as an educator, facilitator and author in the fields of architectural and urban conservation, with special interest in the emerging areas of heritage management, cultural landscapes, and heritage risk preparedness. He is also credited with developing many of the key principles, charters and guideline documents by which conservation is carried out in Canada and abroad.
He has written more than 1200 books, papers, articles and reports on conservation, and lectured at 35 universities. He has served the field’s professional bodies throughout his career, serving as President of APT (1989-91), President of ICOMOS Canada (1993-97), and as Secretary-General of ICOMOS international (1990-93). He has played an active role as adviser to UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee for 20 years and currently prepares 15-20 state of conservation reports for World Heritage properties annually.

Following six years as Director of ICCROM’s Heritage Settlements Unit (1998-2004) in Rome, Italy, Stovel was appointed as Coordinator, Heritage Conservation Programme, in the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada in 2004. He received ICOMOS Canada’s Jacques Dalibard medal for outstanding career achievements in the national and international arenas in October 2008.

The work of Charles Peterson in the 1930s and 1940s provided an excellent beginning to our understanding of the traditional architecture of the “Illinois Country.” More recent surveys of traditional 18th and early 19th century buildings in France, New Brunswick, Quebec, Senegal, Haiti and Louisiana, provide a foundation for a new and more detailed evaluation of the traditions of building which evolved along either side of the Mississippi River in the same period.

He will explore both the similarities and the unique features of the folk architecture of Upper Louisiana. We are fortunate that so many of the older buildings of this area have survived to provide a foundation for analyzing the kinds of traditions which combined to produce a unique pattern of architectural patrimony. While this was an architecture which was both complex and variable, it fits well within the broader patterns of French Colonial tradition. Some questions to be addressed include:

1) In what ways was the architecture of the Illinois Country innovative and unique, and what accounts for these novelties?
2) What were the principal sources of architectural tradition which were syncretized here? How, and in what order, did the processes of amalgamation of separate traditions proceed?
3) Is the French vernacular of the Illinois Country more like domestic traditions of 18th century France, or more like its other outre-mer traditions, and in what ways?
4) Can we recognize common elements of tradition-building or tradition-shaping among the French colonial architectures of the Atlantic World?

Jay Edwards is Professor of Anthropology at Louisiana State University, and director of the Fred B. Kniffen Cultural Resources Lab. He specializes in the vernacular architecture and material culture of the Gulf South, the Mississippi Valley, and the greater Atlantic world. He is co-author and author of books and articles in his field.

The culture of the French-speaking people who lived in the middle Mississippi region of the United States during the 18th century was distinctive and unique. Its evolution resulted in what might be called a ―cultural zone‖ unlike anything else in what is now the United States, and substantially different from its parent cultures in Canada, Louisiana and France.

This cultural zone could be gauged in terms of law, religion, customs, use of the land, architecture, personal philosophy, differences in slave law, and even a skewed version of spoken and written French which remains difficult to unravel for modern scholars. In many ways this cultural zone was purposely erased by the U.S. settlers and government officials who moved into the area after 1804. U.S. officials wished to change the laws, customs and religion to more clearly mirror those of the established states on the east coast.

Robert J. Moore, Jr. is a public historian with a background in art and film. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University, and Masters and Ph.D. Degrees in history from Washington University in St. Louis. His dissertation, Social Darwinism, Social Imperialism, and Rapprochement: Theodore Roosevelt and The English-Speaking Peoples, 1886-1901, (Washington University, 2003) was about British influences on Roosevelt prior to his Presidency. Mr. Moore has been the historian for the National Park Service at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri since 1991. He teaches as an adjunct professor in Washington University’s University College. He has written articles for national magazines on Lewis and Clark, westward expansion and Dred Scott. He is the author of eight books and numerous articles.

The human-shaped landscape in the Illinois Country was based on that of rural, northern France, where a distinctive settlement pattern had emerged in medieval times. This pattern consisted of nuclear agricultural villages surrounded by common-field plowlands and pastures. Clear vestiges of this pattern are yet to be seen at Cahokia, Prairie du Rocher, and Ste. Genevieve. But in the Illinois Country, in contrast to France, these village complexes were set down in a primordial wilderness, with all of the dangers and problems attendant upon that situation. This landscape, unique in the history of the Western World, promoted a particular set of mental structures, a distinctive mentalité in the shorthand of recent historiography. Universal significance inheres in the fact that we have yet today important physical remains of the landscape that generated this unique mentalité.

Carl Ekberg, Professor of History Emeritus, Illinois State University, is the most widely published scholar on the Creole Corridor. His research areas are French colonies in the Mississippi Valley, Bourbon France, Historical Archaeology and Local History. He was awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2006, and the Kemper and Leila Williams Prize, awarded jointly by the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Louisiana Historical Association, in 1998 and 2002.

Preserving the heritage and pursuing the history of the French Creole Corridor are necessities if we are to fully understand terms such as “colonial,” “empire,” and “race” in the story of America and so many other frontier areas where Europeans and indigenous peoples encountered each other and created-in the words of historian James Merrell-“new worlds for all.” The Creole Corridor is a place that runs counter to many cherished myths and clichés in our national narrative. It runs north to south, not east to west. It encompasses and incorporates natural boundaries such as the Mississippi River. Its inhabitants defied attempts to impose imperial and national boundaries. The European and indigenous inhabitants of this corridor intermarried and learned each other’s words. They fought, but they also resisted attempts to dehumanize and demonize the “other.” In this paper, I will
focus on three concepts-“race,” “empire,” and “colonial”-that are problematized by the history of the French Creole Corridor, suggesting that métissage, local resistance, and the flow of goods and mobility of people found in this region’s past can provide useful correctives in the study of American and global frontiers. Prominent local inhabitants such as Pierre Menard, Louis Bolduc, Nicolas Jarrot, and Marie Rouensa will be discussed in the paper.

Jay Gitlin is a Lecturer in History and the Associate Director of the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders at Yale University. His book, The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion, will be published in 2009 by the Yale University Press. He has published numerous articles on western history. At Yale, he teaches courses on Native American history, the history of the American West, and Canadian history. He serves on the Faculty Committee on Urban Studies at Yale and has been an on-camera commentator and consultant for several television shows on the History Channel and Connecticut Public Television, including Suburbia: The Good Life in Connecticut, nominated for a regional Emmy.

In 1803, the United States acquired Louisiana, and in the process acquired a vast population of people who looked definitively foreign. In the years that followed, American policymakers developed a distinct policy for the Creole Corridor designed to preserve both national unity and racial supremacy as the United States expanded into the West. In the process, however, the United States also established a model for governing foreign territory and foreign people. The same principles that applied to the Creole Corridor-political reform, economic integration, and widespread security concerns-later applied in the Southwest after the Mexican War, in the Pacific after the Spanish-American War, in Germany and Japan after World War II, and finally in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Professor Kastor’s research and teaching examine the creation of the federal system and the territorial expansion of the United States during the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth centirues. Much of his scholarship to date has focused on the political landscape of the highly contested borderlands of North America. Critical to this research has been his goal of using regional studies of imperial contest and intercultural contact to address national, continental, and transatlantic questions. Professor Kastor explored the way elite officials at the state and federal levels struggled to create viable policies, the way people outside the policymaking arena enforced their own visions of the federal system, and the way mid- and low-level public officials attempted to navigate relations between these very different constituencies.

This talk is a semi-real, semi-fictionalized composition about certain events, places and things pertaining to the central part of what used to be French America or Nouvelle-France. The term ―A French America‖ refers to a huge, continuous, arch-shaped land mass once occupied and claimed by France, which stretches from the northeast end of our continent to the Gulf of Mexico, a land mass connected by a vast array of long rivers, grand lakes and various-sized bays. In The Last of the Mohicans, subtitled A Narrative of 1757, James Fenimore Cooper displays a similar interest in and respect for the kind of precise geographic and historical detail I wish to utilize here, even though Cooper’s novel is limited to a much more specific locale and far shorter period of time than those treated here. On occasion, many aspects of my literary fantasy will recall well-known 19th-century, romanticized accounts of either continental France or French America by Jules Michelet and Francis Parkman, respectively. In quality, form, content, and ideology, however, my own text lies at a significant remove from these earlier works, in that it concentrates mainly on the Mid-Mississippi Valley, a region that has not been treated nearly as much as those on either end of this vast area, i.e. Lower Louisiana and Quebec/Acadia. Bouncing back and forth from riverbank to riverbank and from era to era, my talk thus aims to re-collect in unique fashion some of the broken-off pieces of this now largely forgotten, yet historically significant geo-political entity.

Stamos Metzidakis, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, has authored numerous books and articles on French poetry, literature, and criticism. He was the Principal Organizer for the 30th Annual Nineteenth-Century French Studies International Colloquium, “French Legacies,” at Washington University, October, 2004. Over 220 scholars from around the world came to speak about a wide range of 19th-century topics, especially the French colonial heritage in North America and the Mississippi Valley

Grand Pré is known worldwide for its association with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s work Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, a poem whose story revolves around the Deportation of the Acadians by the British authorities in 1755. The place, however, holds a variety of meanings for a diverse group of people, all of which have tangible evidence to support their association with it. Grand Pré is first defined by its setting in one of the most fertile marshlands a direct result of the movement of the highest recorded tides in the world. This fertility attracted Aboriginal people (the Mi’kmaq) who for centuries fished and hunted in the area. In the 1680s, the area’s fertility attracted the Acadians to settle and build dykes creating highly productive agricultural land. Following the Deportation of the Acadians in 1755, the area remained unoccupied only for a short time as it was recognized as prime farm land and settled in the 1760s by farmers from New England (the ‗Planters’). They undertook to maintain and expand the dykes thus maintaining that fertility. Generations of farmers have successfully worked the dykelands for over 300 years using a dyking technique adapted from one in use for centuries in Western France to the realities of the North American geography. Finally, this landscape is sacred for the Acadians. It is the place where the Deportation is commemorated, and where the Acadian experience overcoming that tragedy is already shared with the world as a model of hope, perseverance, and pride. It is a place that is a testimony to human ingenuity and resilience in the face of natural challenges and of human tragedy.

This presentation will focus on sharing the experience of the Grand Pré nomination proposal team in developing a UNESCO World Heritage nomination proposal. It will address more specifically the definition of a proposed outstanding universal value in light of the area’s complex history, the engagement of a diverse and wide ranging group of stakeholders, and the development of a plan to protect the living cultural landscape of Grand Pré.

Christophe Rivet is a planner with Parks Canada, the Canadian federal agency responsible for the management of national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas. He is currently working as the project manager coordinating the preparation of the World Heritage nomination proposal for Grand Pré in Nova Scotia, a cultural landscape made up of dykelands and a settlement first created by the Acadians. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Archaeology from McGill University, a Master’s degree in built heritage conservation from Université de Montréal, and is a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester (UK).