"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
"Establishes Stewart's credentials as a leading authority on the history of the southern lowcountry and a leading practitioner of the craft of environmental history."
"The impressive way in which North American historians, following such luminaries as Donald Worster and Bill Cronon, have started to engage with the land is shown in this book. . . . There are two audiences for this book: the 'local', who will be fascinated by the detail of what exactly happened when and to whom, and the wider group, for whom the general conclusions fit into a wider construction of the main types of relationship between the material and the ideational. But as an example of detailed scholarship on what produced for various times a sense of place, this book will have an honourable place on the shelves of historians and of historical geographers whose interests extend beyond the purely social and political."
"There is much to like in this volume. The prose is consistently enviable. The author's exposition of the intricate workings of the wet-rice plantations is deft as well."
—Journal of Southern History
"A nuanced and meticulously researched account . . . This is a landscape that has undergone extraordinary transformations and retransformations in the past 300 years. Mart Stewart has described and analyzed them with great skill and subtlety."
"A pleasure to read . . . By bringing the techniques of environmental history to bear upon lowcountry Georgia, Mart Stewart has performed a valuable service."
—Slavery and Abolition
"A detailed and thoroughly readable case study of some important themes in a particularly appropriate local setting . . . Many more such books are needed."
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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