Defetishizing the plantation: African americans in the memorialized south

Perry L. Carter, David Butler, Owen Dwyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Plantation museums would appear to be natural sites in which to learn about the lives of enslaved Africans and African-Americans in the US. Marx describes a commodity fetish as occurring when the link between labor and the product of labor has been broken when human wrought objects appear to come from nowhere. Plantation museums are a peculiar type of fetish commodity. They are sites that capitalize the plantation by using it as a stage for the selling of a 'big house' story of planters, masters, and mistresses, while neglecting the stories of those whose labor built the estate and whose wealth generation furnished it. Re-introducing the enslaved into the public history of the Southern plantation obviously requires a direct re-writing of the tours and exhibits at these heritage sites and changing what visitors hear about slavery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-146
Number of pages19
JournalHistorical Geography
StatePublished - 2011


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