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Joining Places: Slave Neighborhoods in the Old South / Edition 1

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In this new interpretation of antebellum slavery, Anthony Kaye offers a vivid portrait of slaves transforming adjoining plantations into slave neighborhoods. He describes men and women opening paths from their owners' plantations to adjacent farms to go courting and take spouses, to work, to run away, and to otherwise contend with owners and their agents. In the course of cultivating family ties, forging alliances, working, socializing, and storytelling, slaves fashioned their neighborhoods into the locus of slave society.

Joining Places is the first book about slavery to use the pension files of former soldiers in the Union army, a vast source of rich testimony by ex-slaves. From these detailed accounts, Kaye tells the stories of men and women in love, "sweethearting," "taking up," "living together," and marrying across plantation lines; striving to get right with God; carving out neighborhoods as a terrain of struggle; and working to overthrow the slaveholders' regime. Kaye's depiction of slaves' sense of place in the Natchez District of Mississippi reveals a slave society that comprised not a single, monolithic community but an archipelago of many neighborhoods. Demonstrating that such neighborhoods prevailed across the South, he reformulates ideas about slave marriage, resistance, independent production, paternalism, autonomy, and the slave community that have defined decades of scholarship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A finely detailed and richly documented narrative. . . . This volume can be expected to have wide-ranging influence on the future study of the lives of the enslaved and the plantation economy that held them in bondage.--Journal of the Early Republic

Joining Places offers a new approach to familiar questions about the character of slave society and community. . . . [It] demonstrates how 'neighborhood' shaped slaves' work and socialization, their creation of marriage and family ties, and the resistance they offered to slaveholders and the slave regime.--Frederick Douglass Book Prize Committee

A deep and nuanced portrait of slavery in the Deep South during a critical period in its making and unmaking. . . . An important contribution to the scholarship of slavery and resistance, and should also be of interest to scholars interested in the production of space.--Canadian Journal of History

Kaye joins a growing body of work that explores the complicated, contested nature of community, power, and labor, leading the scholarship toward a denser awareness of life within slavery.--Enterprise and Society

Recapture[s] both the fluidity and yearning for stability that marked the lives of the enslaved in this dynamic locale.--The North Carolina Historical Review

An original and persuasive interpretation of slavery and slave life. . . . Boldly conceived and fluently written. . . . An important book, one that will surely become a staple in graduate courses on southern and African American history. . . . Kaye has shifted the scholarly conversation.--American Historical Review

Based on path-breaking research that accomplishes something unthinkable at this late date: it excavates a too-rarely used, massive set of sources that reports new words from ex-slaves speaking about their experiences before emancipation. . . . A rewarding, even exciting contribution to the scholarship of slavery and African-American history. . . . A detailed, breathing portrait of slavery in the Natchez District, one that sometimes is shocking in its living tints. . . . All who study slavery in North America need to read this important new work.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Anthony E. Kaye is associate professor of American history at Pennsylvania State University.
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Table of Contents


1 Neighborhoods
2 Intimate Relations
3 Divisions of Labor
4 Terrains of Struggle
5 Beyond Neighborhood
6 War and Emancipation
Appendix: Population, Land, and Labor

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