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Call for papers for the conference Investigating Mid-Atlantic Plantations: Slavery, Economies, and Space, organized by the Stenton Museum, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Program in Early American Economy and Society at the Library Company of Philadelphia, Cliveden of the National Trust, and the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania


Philadelphia, PA, October 17-19, 2019


A real-world challenge to Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an agrarian republic of (white) smallholders, plantations were sites of concentrated wealth and exploitation. More familiar in a Southern context, mid-Atlantic plantations had their own forms, meanings, and relationships. In the mid-Atlantic – where fertile farmland and deep-water ports provided complementary economic engines – plantations grew in close proximity to urban centers, Northern and Southern interests comingled, and boundaries frequently blurred. This conference seeks to better understand the unique qualities of plantation complexes in the middle colonies (states) while also comparing these regional phenomena with better-known Southern institutions and situating them within the larger contexts of British North America and the United States.
This conference is intentionally interdisciplinary. We seek participants from diverse fields including economic, social, and cultural history; African American studies; geography, archeology, and material culture; and museum studies, cultural resource management, and historic preservation. Paper proposals might address economic, familial, and religious networks; enslavement, indenture, and “free” labor; land ownership and land development; agricultural and horticultural practices; architecture, circulation, and spatial relationships; physical and cognitive maps; foodways and music; industry and commerce; and the construction of gendered or racial categories. We look forward to seeing even more ways that applicants might illuminate these mid-Atlantic geographies of privilege, slavery, and forced labor; manifold local and far-reaching economies; and spaces both rural and urban.


The deadline for submissions is 15 September, 2018.
If you wish to propose a paper or presentation, please submit an abstract (250 words) and a short curriculum vitae to Proposals for panels should include these for each participant as well as a brief description of the overarching concerns of the panel.
Applicants can expect to hear back from the conference committee by the end of October 2018. Formal papers will be pre-circulated by September 2019. Some funding is available to offset the costs of travel and lodging for conference participants. Details about this support will be available after submissions are reviewed.
Conference organizers will consider both individual papers and panel submissions. Papers for many of the panels will be pre-circulated. PowerPoint presentations, especially those relating to visual and material culture, may also be pre-circulated. Non-traditional panels and presentations (such as tours, workshops, brief papers, or demonstrations) will be considered.

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