Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Historical plantation museums have been criticized for biased interpretation practices that marginalize the historical presence of enslaved African Americans. This is a curriculum question that is relevant to historical museums that are wrestling with impacting social change and developing equitable practices to serve increasingly broad and diverse audiences. I conducted an action research study with five museum workers at Magnolia Mound Plantation (MMP) in south Louisiana to better understand the limits and possibilities of expanding slave life representations at this museum. I implemented the study using action research and archival research. Action research involved ethnographic methodologies including tour observations, interviews, focus group meetings, and feedback from outside reviewers. The archival research generated a report documenting this site’s enslaved community from 1786-1830. Museum workers demonstrated that they were engaged in remembrance learning, a kind of learning to live with loss, when they were faced with revising the museum’s traditional planter-focused tour to an integrated tour that elevated the historical presence of the enslaved community. Looking through an educational psychoanalytic lens, I found that the newly introduced slave life histories disrupted museum workers’ understandings of MMP’s history, which incited feelings of loss for the iconic meanings of the historical site and for museum workers’ personal attachments to French Louisiana plantation heritage. Museum workers used expressions of mourning and melancholia to describe their engagement with the slave life histories.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Claudia Eppert



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