Overview

A rare classic in American social science, Edgar Thompson's 1932 University of Chicago dissertation, "The Plantation," broke new analytic ground in the study of the southern plantation system. Thompson refuted long-espoused climatic theories of the origins of plantation societies and offered instead a richly nuanced understanding of the links between plantation culture, the global history of capitalism, and the political and economic contexts of hierarchical social classification. This first complete publication ...
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The Plantation

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Overview

A rare classic in American social science, Edgar Thompson's 1932 University of Chicago dissertation, "The Plantation," broke new analytic ground in the study of the southern plantation system. Thompson refuted long-espoused climatic theories of the origins of plantation societies and offered instead a richly nuanced understanding of the links between plantation culture, the global history of capitalism, and the political and economic contexts of hierarchical social classification. This first complete publication of Thompson's study makes available to modern readers one of the earliest attempts to reinterpret the history of the American South as an integral part of global processes. In this Southern Classics edition, editors Sidney W. Minz and George Baca provide a thorough introduction explicating Thompson's guiding principles and grounding his germinal work in its historical context.

Thompson viewed the plantation as a political institution in which the quasi-industrial production of agricultural staples abroad through race-making labor systems solidified and advanced European state power. His interpretation marks a turning point in the scientific study of an ancient agricultural institution, in which the plantation is seen as a pioneering instrument for the expansion of the global economy. Further, his awareness of the far-reaching history of economic globalization and of the conception of race as socially constructed predicts viewpoints that have since become standard. As such, this overlooked gem in American intellectual history is still deeply relevant for ongoing research and debate in social, economic, and political history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611172171
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 11/26/2012
  • Series: Southern Classics
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Sidney W. Mintz is a research professor in the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University and the author of Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History and Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations.
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Table of Contents

Series Editors' Preface

Introduction

1 The Plantation as a Social Institution 1

Introduction 1

The Plantation Defined 3

The Plantation and Colonization 4

The Plantation as a Type of Settlement 8

The Plantation and Labor 11

The Plantation as a Political Institution 13

The Theory of the Plantation 15

The Plantation and Social Change 18

Virginia as a Typical Plantation Frontier 20

2 The Metropolis and the Plantation 23

The Revolution in Distance 23

The Trading Factory 26

His Majesty's Plantations 33

3 The Plantation in Virginia 39

Free Land and Plantation Settlement 39

Agricultural Specialization: Tobacco 49

4 Plantation Management and Imported Labor in Virginia 56

The Tide of White Labor 56

Negro Slavery and Its Control 63

The Evolution of the Planter 71

The Humanization of the Plantation 74

5 The Plantation and the Frontier 82

Economic Changes and the Small Farm in Virginia 82

The Plantation on the New Southern Frontier 87

6 The Natural History of the Plantation 100

Geographical Isolation and Culture 100

Ecological Changes and Race Relations 103

Adaptation and Accommodation to a New Habitat 104

Agricultural Specialization and Racial Stratification 107

The Organization and Control of Labor 108

Peasant Proprietorship and Cultural Homogeneity 110

Notes 113

Bibliography 137

Index 147

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