Title page for ETD etd-06292006-183004

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Rose, Julia Anne
Author's Email Address JRose4@lsu.edu
URN etd-06292006-183004
Title Rethinking Representations of Slave Life at Historical Plantation Museums: Towards a Commemorative Museum Pedagogy
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Curriculum & Instruction
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Claudia Eppert Committee Chair
Miles Richardson Committee Member
Petra Munro Hendry Committee Member
Thomas Durant Committee Member
William Doll Committee Member
  • museum education
  • interpreting slavery
  • Louisiana history
  • museum learning
  • remembrance
  • historical sites
Date of Defense 2006-06-21
Availability unrestricted
Historical plantation museums have been criticized for biased interpretation practices that marginalize the historical presence of enslaved African Americans. This is a curriculum question that is relevant to historical museums that are wrestling with impacting social change and developing equitable practices to serve increasingly broad and diverse audiences.

I conducted an action research study with five museum workers at Magnolia Mound Plantation (MMP) in south Louisiana to better understand the limits and possibilities of expanding slave life representations at this museum. I implemented the study using action research and archival research. Action research involved ethnographic methodologies including tour observations, interviews, focus group meetings, and feedback from outside reviewers. The archival research generated a report documenting this siteís enslaved community from 1786-1830.

Museum workers demonstrated that they were engaged in remembrance learning, a kind of learning to live with loss, when they were faced with revising the museumís traditional planter-focused tour to an integrated tour that elevated the historical presence of the enslaved community. Looking through an educational psychoanalytic lens, I found that the newly introduced slave life histories disrupted museum workersí understandings of MMPís history, which incited feelings of loss for the iconic meanings of the historical site and for museum workersí personal attachments to French Louisiana plantation heritage. Museum workers used expressions of mourning and melancholia to describe their engagement with the slave life histories.

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