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Frederick Law Olmsted and the cultural geography of southern slave autonomy

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journal contribution
posted on 09.12.2016 by Catherine Armstrong
Frederick Law Olmsted’s account of his journeys through the southern states, undertaken from 1852-57 reveals that Olmsted, in whom a sense of place was especially strong, characterised enslaved people’s relative freedom by place, delineating the plantation (even its slave quarters) as the areas of strictest control while liminal spaces at the edge of plantations, as well as roads, rivers, towns, markets and cities represented places of autonomy. These sites became places of resistance, with Olmsted contrasting his depictions of supposedly docile, naïve, slow-witted slaves on the plantation, with those more articulate, confident and able whom he met on the margins. In revealing the potential of African-Americans to live as free people in the United States, Olmsted reinforced the normalisation of the plantation for slave experience. This chapter will explore examples such as the landscape strategies of southern maroons and Olmsted’s slaves’ autonomy by road, river and sea.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Politics and International Studies

Published in

Slavery and Abolition: a journal of slave and post-slave studies

Volume

38

Issue

1

Citation

ARMSTRONG, C.M., 2016. Frederick Law Olmsted and the cultural geography of southern slave autonomy. Slavery and Abolition, 38(1), pp.37-48.

Publisher

© Taylor & Francis

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date

01/11/2016

Publication date

2016

Notes

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Slavery and Abolition on 9 March 2017, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/0144039X.2017.1284906.

ISSN

0144-039X

eISSN

1743-9523

Language

en

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