This Is Our Home

Slavery and Struggle on Southern Plantations

By Whitney Nell Stewart

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 40 halftones, 1 map, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7568-8
    Published: November 2023
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7567-1
    Published: November 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7569-5
    Published: November 2023

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Awards & distinctions

2024 Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book, Texas Institute of Letters

The cultural memory of plantations in the Old South has long been clouded by myth. A recent reckoning with the centrality of slavery to the US national story, however, has shifted the meaning of these sites. Plantations are no longer simply seen as places of beauty and grandiose hospitality; their reality as spaces of enslavement, exploitation, and violence is increasingly at the forefront of our scholarly and public narratives. Yet even this reckoning obscures what these sites meant to so many forced to live and labor on them: plantations were Black homes as much as white.

Insightfully reading the built environment of plantations, considering artifact fragments found in excavations of slave dwellings, and drawing on legal records and plantation owners' papers, Whitney Nell Stewart illuminates how enslaved people struggled to make home amid innumerable constraints and obstacles imposed by white southerners. By exploring the material remnants of the past, Stewart demonstrates how homemaking was a crucial part of the battle over slavery and freedom, a fight that continues today in consequential confrontations over who has the right to call this nation home.

About the Author

Whitney Nell Stewart is assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at Dallas.
For more information about Whitney Nell Stewart, visit the Author Page.


"This is Our Home is wonderfully written and richly illustrated with numerous images showing the places it explores and the material culture items it discusses. Stewart’s interdisciplinary approach to studying the liberating sense of home among the enslaved makes for compelling reading."—Emerging Civil War

"Mining a rich array of interdisciplinary sources with sensitivity and brilliance, Stewart reshapes our understanding of 'home' by recovering the material worlds and emotional experiences of Black southerners who lived on plantations. Stewart's book is a game changer for the field of American material culture studies and a must read for Black and southern history."—Zara Anishanslin, author of Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World

"A timely and important re-examination of the meaning of home in slavery. Stewart illuminates the making of white plantation homes dependent on the labor of enslaved people and the practices through which enslaved people sought to create some domestic authority over the places they lived and buried their dead. She takes seriously the idea of a slave home, skillfully re-imagining the captive spaces of the slave cabin and surveilled yard as potentially liberatory spaces. Ultimately, only with emancipation would Black people gain any significant privacy and authority or 'homes of their own.' Even then, as Stewart reminds us, the power of white people to tear them apart endured."--Thavolia Glymph, author of The Women's Fight: The Civil War's Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation