Staging Eden; Staging Power: Landscaping the Royal Garden of the Kingdom of Haiti




Native ecosystems, decolonization, economics, Kingdom of Haiti, garden landscape, Royal Garden of Haiti, tropicality


A uniquely successful slave revolt enabled King Henry (Christophe) I to lead an engagement with native plants, animals including humans, built structures, and landscaped gardens in The Kingdom of Haiti, a tropical country liberated from colonial rule. The new ruler’s political and economic exigencies and hopes had points of both collaboration and contention with the expectations of the new citizens. He would make full use of both local traditional knowledge and the latest for-profit agricultural management techniques. The engagement resulted in general prosperity, especially for the new proprietors of the largest landholdings. He set aside a portion of royal property that preserved the original flora and fauna, but most of the kingdom maintained the former plantations. There were schools and medical clinics for everyone. Yet the peasants worked even harder than they had as slaves and held little political power. Beyond the Royal Garden and the preserved forest, exploitation of the tropical ecosystem continued and even increased.

Author Biography

LeGrace Benson, State University of New York-Empire State College, USA

LeGrace Benson is Professor (Emerita) of the State University of New York-Empire State College and is Associate Editor of the Journal of Haitian Studies. Her interdisciplinary PhD at Cornell University primarily focused on studies in human perceptions as ecological systems, with the education of artists and the history of art as related to visual perception. Her major publication is Arts and Religions of Haiti; How the Sun Illuminates Under Cover of Darkness (2015). She is currently Co-chair of the Working Group on Environment for the Haitian Studies Association. 


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How to Cite

Benson, L. (2022). Staging Eden; Staging Power: Landscaping the Royal Garden of the Kingdom of Haiti . ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 21(1), 70–82.