This article addresses tensions between two dominant heritage practices in Antigua Guatemala, one that is oriented around the regulation of buildings and streets and another that is oriented around the regulation of people as cultural and economic performers. I place these regulatory practices within a framework that uses Latour’s (2005) concepts of mediation and assemblage—the relationship between materiality and humans—to discuss the contexts of heritage politics and lived practices in heritage sites. This case study explores how UNESCO heritage politics and the Guatemalan state’s regulation of Antigua’s architecture and street workers are intertwined with tourism performance economies and residents’ cultural aesthetics of the city. In describing Antigua’s contemporary cityscape aesthetic, and, more specifically, the Arch of Santa Catalina, I draw on Latour’s assemblage theory to interpret the heterogeneous ways in which the materiality of the city contributes to watercolor artists’ social, economic, and political practices. I then draw on Rancière’s (2006) theory of aesthetic regimes to make sense of individuals’ everyday urban practices within public heritage sites. In other words, considering Rancière’s and Latour’s respective theories together approaches the analysis of a heritage site in a way that encompasses the everyday discourses, practices, and materiality of the Arch of Santa Catalina. Namely, I argue residents’ heritage aesthetics, within the larger political, regulatory, and aesthetic apparatuses of the State and UNESCO, illustrate how urban heritage sites are an assemblage that articulates with everyday social and material practices that lead to unexpected political outcomes that are tied to cultural and economic practices.


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pp. 1269-1302
Launched on MUSE
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