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Representations of Slavery: Race and Ideology in Southern Plantation Museums Paperback – September 17, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jennifer L. Eichstedt is an assistant professor of sociology at Humboldt State University in Aracata, California. Stephen Small is an associate professor of African American studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588340961
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588340962
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By AfroAmericanHeritage on April 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
African American history in general, and slavery in particular, should be an integral part of the story told at any plantation museum. After all, not a single plantation would have or could have existed without the complex institution slavery. Yet as the authors ably demonstrate, that story is not being presented by the vast majority of plantation museums.

The authors create a useful framework to categorize the nature of interpretation. "Symbolic Annihilation" occurs when slavery is not acknowledged at all. "Trivialization and deflection" might actually be more insidious, because it presents slavery as benign, with happy "darkies" gratefully serving Massa."Segregation or marginalization" is at least a step in a better direction; here museums offer interpretative programs relating to the black experience, but in separate and less frequent programming. "Relative incorporation" occurs when the story of the plantation's black inhabitants is told at least alongside that of its white inhabitants.

There is no reduction to a so-called "white vs black dichotomy" nor is this book in any way "white bashing." The sad truth is it's impossible to discuss slavery without mentioning the enslavers, and vice versa...and it is the life of the enslaver that is explored and commemorated by these museums. The authors simply argue that it's high time we heard about the enslaved as well, and that plantation museums offer the perfect opportunity to explore the institution in all its complexity. And that is apparently starting to happen only at Afro-centric sites, or publicly funded ones. The private foundations exist primarily to keep alive the myth of the Lost South, and integrating the story of slavery into those sites is - I fear - a lost cause.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. Bennet on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Eichstadt and Small's study of the ways in which Southern Plantation museums do and do not address slavery is primarily useful in that it confirms what most of us already recognized. Most Southern plantation museums do not confront the issue of slavery in a useful or balanced way. This is not news to public historians. Although the book does serve to document the lack of slavery representation in most southern house museums, as a whole, it is not particularly profound. Some of Eichstadt and Small's conclusions and terminology, however, do provide useful tools for public historians studying the representation of slavery in house museums. The introductory sections are thought provoking as they address some of the reasons that the issue of slavery is often absent in the interpretive framework of many southern house museums.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Morning Glory on November 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book! I spent the summer of 2014 in South Carolina and this text helped to give me perspective on both the house museums and plantation museums located there. Maybe that was not the intention of the authors but I was then able to assess slavery and how it was represented at all of the museums I visited.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Sassy Countess on May 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is some fantastic information between the covers, here. However, the authors continually whine, so it can be difficult to read. Also, they have no sense of humor, so in areas where there are jokes, they take it personally and use it against the people who said it. BUT, if you can get past all of the unpalatable "Yankeeisms," then you will find information to make your site one of the greats. I definitely learned a great deal from the authors, but it made my teeth hurt at times.
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1 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J. Wolff on October 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although I see the validity of their points throughout the book, I walked away from it feeling bad to be a white person. Yes, slavery happened, yes, it was a horrible atrocity, but I don't think that they do an adaquate job of truly examining museums but instead reducing it to a white vs. black dichotomy. If you want to read something truly interesting and non white bashing, go elsewhere.
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Representations of Slavery: Race and Ideology in Southern Plantation Museums
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