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This Is Our Home

Slavery and Struggle on Southern Plantations

Whitney Nell Stewart

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: The University of North Carolina Press
Published: 11/2023
Pages: 296
Subject: Social Science, History
Print ISBN: 9781469675671
eBook ISBN: 9781469675701


The cultural memory of plantations in the Old South has long been clouded by myth. A recent reckoning with the centrality of slavery to the US national story, however, has shifted the meaning of these sites. Plantations are no longer simply seen as places of beauty and grandiose hospitality; their reality as spaces of enslavement, exploitation, and violence is increasingly at the forefront of our scholarly and public narratives. Yet even this reckoning obscures what these sites meant to so many forced to live and labor on them: plantations were Black homes as much as white.

Insightfully reading the built environment of plantations, considering artifact fragments found in excavations of slave dwellings, and drawing on legal records and plantation owners' papers, Whitney Nell Stewart illuminates how enslaved people struggled to make home amid innumerable constraints and obstacles imposed by white southerners. By exploring the material remnants of the past, Stewart demonstrates how homemaking was a crucial part of the battle over slavery and freedom, a fight that continues today in consequential confrontations over who has the right to call this nation home.