Plantation geographies: agriculture, race, and science in the South Carolina Lowcountry, 1865-present
Van Sant, Claude Victor
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This dissertation examines the racial politics of agriculture in the South Carolina Lowcountry – the coastal region surrounding the port city of Charleston – from the end of slavery to the present. While the region is widely known for its prominent place in the history of American colonialism and slavery, scholars have yet to give much attention to the Lowcountry in the late 19th and 20th centuries. I argue that race and agriculture remain deeply intertwined in the Lowcountry, however, and that the historical geography of this region over the course of the long 20th century reveals several important things. First, it indicates that the articulation of whiteness and agricultural governance remains an important driver of regional politics – now institutionalized and largely unexamined rather than a product of individual intention. Second, it illustrates the ways that ideologies and practices of “improvement” complement more overtly discriminatory processes. Finally, it suggests the extent to which US agricultural governance is informed by the broader project of whiteness.