Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Plantations are one of the long-standing symbols of the U.S. South. Today, almost four hundred former plantation sites are museums. Over the last fifteen years a sustained, critical consideration of how slavery is remembered at these sites has developed in the academic literature. Geographers have argued that remembering slavery at these sites is geographic not only because most of these sites are in the South, but also because the public spatializes memory in certain ways at these historic places. To date, much of the memory literature about plantation museums focuses on the roles of these museums and their staff in remembering, forgetting, minimizing, and misrepresenting plantation slavery. While tourists have not been ignored, less information has been developed about how they participate in remembering the past at historic sites associated with the plantation and slavery. Through their presence, written and spoken comments and questions, and other actions tourists influence the social process of remembering plantation slavery. To understand some of the ways that tourists shape how slavery is connected to the memory of a place, I analyzed postcards and participated in house tours with other tourists. I learned that while there are often efforts on the part of local stakeholders to frame a site’s connection to slavery in certain ways, visitors often transform these associations. In some cases, the associations between a place and slavery are shaped, in other cases, tourists participate in marginalizing the memory of enslaved people. Whether by postcard, things said or even the things within a plantation museum that they touch, tourists try to connect themselves to the past. The connections that visitors make are part of the process of remembering the past. Understanding tourists better is an important step towards a fuller remembering of slavery at historic sites like plantation house museums.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Regis, Helen A