The Integrated Plantation Landscape: SHA2014 Session


This coming January, I will be taking part as a co-organizer in a session at the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) meetings in Quebec City, Quebec called The Intersecting Plantation Landscape II. The session revisits a number of plantation landscapes that my fellow organizers and I examined at the Society for Early Americanists (SEA) meetings in Savannah earlier this year. The purpose of that session was to examine how plantation landscapes are connected and integrated with landscapes external to the plantation. After the session, it occurred to us that many of our papers focused on questions about how planters intended, built, and maintained these connections. We had neglected to consider these landscapes from the perspective of the enslaved, women, or other workers on the plantation. How did their perspectives and use of the landscape integrate, or not integrate, with the spaces external to the plantation?

With this in mind, we “got the band back together” for SHA, and brought on a number of additional scholars to address other types of integrated plantation landscapes. In all, I’m very excited about the contributions that are going to be made, which will cover lots of territory in terms of topics, analytical approaches, and theoretical approaches to plantations and landscapes.

As my contribution as an organizer, I constructed a website so that attendees can access the complete papers from the SEA meetings and also get a preview of what is to come. Hopefully, by the week of the conference, all the papers for the SHA session will also be available. You can visit the website here:

The Integrated Plantation Landscape

[You can check out my paper from the SEA here][sea]. In it, I examine how the plantation at St. Mary’s Manor was integrated with the memorialized landscape at St. Mary’s City through the use of the built environment, particularly the positioning of the manor home. My SHA paper will take the flipside of this landscape, and begin to interrogate the experience of enslaved African Americans who operated within this integrated landscape, and how they navigated spaces such as the manor home and the wilderness to broaden their community. I also want to address how emancipaiton and the freedom of mobility changed their relationship to the plantation, but I’m concerned I may run out of time. It is still, as these things tend to be, a work in progress.

I do want to specially thank David Brown of the Fairfield Foundation, who has pulled a lot of the weight on putting these two sessions together. Many brews are owed to him by all of us.

If you’re in Quebec in January, I hope you’ll be in attendance. If not….enjoy the website!

  • Nicole Isenbarger

    Very interesting topic. My main research is with Colonoware, so I did a paper at the SHA in Toronto on the landscape of the enslaved from the perspective of their involvement in the markets. My paper looked at how the items they made and collected as well as the routes and means they traveled to the markets would have shaped their interactions with the environment and broadened their landscape beyond the plantation boundaries. I am excited to read others perspectives on this topic!!