Sweepin’ Spirits: Power and Transformation on the Plantation Landscape



When one thinks of power, a number of thoughts come to mind. Is power the ability to influence something or someone? Does power have anything to do with authority or control? Is power given by others or earned by the individual? I begin this article with the word and idea of power because some of the chapters in this book focus on power dynamics and all of the authors in this volume discuss how landscapes are perceived in the past or in the present. In this chapter, I will explore landscapes as more than just places affected by people, but made of living species – plants, trees, birds, animals, fish, and so forth, while recognizing that it is people who bring social and symbolic meaning to these places. Therefore, I see power in who transformed the plantation from a “natural landscape” to “cultural landscape” as the central component in understanding black cultural production in the 19th century.


Cultural Landscape Plantation Landscape Domestic Space Captive Woman Complex Household 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Suzanne Spencer-Wood and Sherene Baugher for their patience, tireless commitment to this volume, and all their comments and suggestions for this chapter. I would also like to thank the Ladies Hermitage Association, Robbie Jones, Marsha Mullin, Larry McKee, Elizabeth Keller-DeCourse, Jillian Galle, and Jennifer Woody, for their help during my time at the Hermitage. In addition I would like to thank Tanya Mears, Maria Franklin, Michele Wallace, N’Dri Assie-Lumumba, Warren Perry, and Bob Paynter for reading early drafts of this paper and helping me to develop my ideas since leaving the Hermitage. My thanks to members of the local Hermitage community including the members of Stateland Baptist Church and Scott’s Hallow AME Church. I hope to have a lifetime to learn from descendants I have met along the way, especially Mrs. Constance Bradley (and sister Kathye). I would also like to acknowledge those elders who have passed on to the other side, Mrs. Minerva Washington and my grandmother, Mrs. H. Lawrencie Jones. My husband, Trevor Baptiste supplied encouragement and support. Any shortcomings in this article are solely my responsibility.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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