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Excavating MemorySites of Remembering and Forgetting$
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Maria Theresia Starzmann and John R. Roby

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813061603

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813061603.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Persistent Practice and Racial Politics

Persistent Practice and Racial Politics

Maple Sugaring on the Dennis Farm

(p.242) 11 Persistent Practice and Racial Politics
Excavating Memory

John R. Roby

University Press of Florida

From the late eighteenth to late nineteenth centuries, an early social justice movement formed around the idea that agricultural products, including maple sugar, produced by free labor could strike directly at the institution of slavery. The Perkins and Dennis families, free African American landowning farmers in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, produced large amounts of maple sugar throughout the nineteenth century, which raises the question: To what extent can their material practice be understood within the context of racial politics and the “free sugar” movement? Maple sugar production on the Perkins-Dennis Farm is an example of memory work in two moments: In the past, during its physical production in the sugar bush each spring; and in the present, as this seemingly mundane economic practice is revealed to contain subtle yet symbolically charged implications in the historicization of shifting racial and class relations.

Keywords:   Memory Work, Maple Sugar, African Americans

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