In 1960, the Malian government began investing in cultural heritage as part of a calculated nation-building project. When, in the early 1990s, the political project began to converge with the new economic strategy of commodifying culture through tourism, the work became more complex. This study begins with an overview of Mali’s heritage work and its long-standing partnership with UNESCO. It then presents case studies of Djenné and San, heritage sites inscribed on UNESCO heritage lists. Finally, an epilogue addresses the fragility of the state’s nationalist project exposed during the recent insurgency in the north and lists measures that Mali has recently taken to promote a shared cultural patrimony among its citizens in the postconflict era.