Ecology and Resistance in the American Plantation Zone
This chapter examines the travels of naturalist William Bartram across the southern colonies where he recorded the native flora and fauna. Bartram intended to distinguish southern America as a temperate region that contributes to the health of the human faculties. It argues that Bartram’s travels yield an ecological conception of revolution that recalibrate theorizations of resistance in the eighteenth-century plantation zone, a space that is tropical and whose economy and political structures are shaped by the plantation form. His account of swamps and the transformation of the people who lived in them reveal a mode of action that pulls away from the public sphere as well as the revolutionary nationalism and modes of subjectivity. The chapter attempts to situate Bartram within a minoritarian enlightenment tradition attentive to tropical and subtropical regions’ disordering of the colonial projects that they also sustained by associating with Afro-American cultural productions.
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