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Working the DiasporaThe Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World, 1650-1850$
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Frederick C. Knight

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814748183

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814748183.001.0001

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Natural Worship

Natural Worship

Slavery, the Environment, and Black Consciousness in the Antebellum South

Chapter:
(p.131) 6 Natural Worship
Source:
Working the Diaspora
Author(s):

Frederick C. Knight

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814748183.003.0007

This concluding chapter considers the relationship between slave work practices and ideologies. In particular, since slaves spent the bulk of their time working in the natural world, nature and its metaphors were prominent in their vision of power dynamics and human relationships. Their poetry, folklore, oral history, autobiographies, and other sources reveal that slaves saw the natural world as a metaphor for their own experience as subjects, a domain that offered escape from the confines of slavery, and an object of veneration. For instance, the forests not only created a barrier separating slaves from the outside world but also served as a refuge for runaways. The fields were not only places of work under the scorching sun but also places where slaves had sublime visions.

Keywords:   slave work, slave ideologies, power dynamics, human relationships, natural world, nature, slavery

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