Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Derek Alderman

Committee Members

Micheline Riemsdijk, Solange Munoz, Stefanie Benjamin


Plantation house museums have come under increased scrutiny for obscuring or excluding altogether histories of enslaved laborers. Plantation sites have by-and-large re-cast the characters of the plantation, transforming spaces of Black labor into spaces of White leisure. However, changing tourist interests/demographics and increased research on representations of slavery have challenged the tradition of Lost Cause ideology as a centerpiece of interpretation at sites of slavery and the effective whitewashing of these formerly majority-Black spaces. Recently there has been a movement to find and implement more-complete interpretations of slavery at historic sites, evidenced by the opening of numerous museums and historic sites that have an interpretive focus on slavery. Tour guides are powerful place-making agents at plantation house museums. The ways tour guides experience place—their physical and emotional labor, development of tours, and engagement with the landscape—contribute to the (re)creation of historical narratives and plantation atmospheres. This dissertation builds on research in cultural geography, critical tourism, and heritage studies that investigate the function and deployment of narrative at plantation house museums and sites of slavery.

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