"Scholars in disciplines from colonial studies to agricultural history to landscape studies will find it a stunning achievement . . . Sumptuously rich in detail woven by its author into many larger arguments that demonstrate the enduring power of place, and especially what ecologists call 'natural systems,' through gradual and traumatic social change."
—American Historical Review
The core landscape of this long history was the plantation landscape, which persisted long after its economic foundation had begun to erode. The heart of this study examines the connection between power relations and different perceptions and uses of the environment by masters and slaves on lowcountry plantations—and how these differing habits of land use created different but interlocking landscapes.
Nature also has agency in this story; some landscapes worked and some did not. Mart A. Stewart argues that the creation of both individual and collective livelihoods was the consequence not only of economic and social interactions but also of changing environmental ones, and that even the best adaptations required constant negotiation between culture and nature. In response to a question of perennial interest to historians of the South, Stewart also argues that a "sense of place" grew out of these negotiations and that, at least on the coastal plain, the "South" as a place changed in meaning several times.
Read more about slavery in antebellum Georgia at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
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