Observer Effects: the Power and Vulnerability of the Slaveholder's Surveillance Network

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2019-04-15

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Abstract

This micro-study of the Cameron and Bennehan families, who owned plantations in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama, demonstrates that plantation operations would have unraveled without the efforts of surveillors, a group that included white overseers, slaveholding merchants, patrollers, anonymous informants, drivers, who were enslaved and tasked to oversee different aspects of plantation operations, and other slaves. The result implores us to consider with high probability that other wealthy slaveholders, who owned plantations in the region and across the Southern United States, addressed similar weaknesses with an analogous, perhaps overlapping, surveillance network that played a crucial role in maintaining an economic and social system entrenched by the relationships of slavery.

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Wohl, Julia (2019). Observer Effects: the Power and Vulnerability of the Slaveholder's Surveillance Network. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18327.


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