Detached Kitchens, Detached Memories? The Plantation Landscape and the Challenge of Inclusive Museum Narration.

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Title: Detached Kitchens, Detached Memories? The Plantation Landscape and the Challenge of Inclusive Museum Narration.
Author: Adams, Robyn Elizabeth
Advisors: David Zonderman, Committee Chair
Craig Thompson Friend, Committee Member
Katherine Mellen Charron, Committee Member
Abstract: Visitors to historic plantation house museums may come for tours of grand manor houses, stories of elite white history, and expensive decorative arts, but once they step outside the main house they are confronted with numerous outbuildings which were once the work and living spaces of enslaved men and women. Perhaps the most popular outbuilding with visitors today, the detached kitchen is the focal point of my study into the interpretations of space at historic house museums. More commonly found at historic sites than smokehouses, privies, and dairies, the detached kitchen has become the primary venue for the incorporation of slavery into the master site narratives. As scholars of plantation landscapes have shown, the detachment of the kitchen was a purposeful choice made by white elites in an effort to control the access enslaved workers had to areas of the white family. This racial segregation meant a plantation household was really a series of households, and my paper argues that the architectural legacy of the kitchen’s detachment from the house complicates the very ability of a site to incorporate and interpret the social structures of the plantation into one inclusive narrative. This paper focuses on Gunston Hall Plantation in Mason’s Neck, Virginia, Tryon Palace in New Bern, NC, and Mordecai Historic Site in Raleigh, NC to highlight the ways the kitchen is interpreted through both the regular tours and special programming.
Date: 2010-04-27
Degree: MA
Discipline: Public History
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/6276


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