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Plantation Life in the Antebellum South

Blassingame provides a fascinating section on the parallels between the institution of slavery and other total institutions such as concentration camps and prisons. In doing so, he examines slavery from another perspective and shows that greater mutuality and accommodation are evident in the master-slave relationship than many individuals believe. The author also demonstrates that power relations in any institution between those in absolute power and those they control does not necessarily result in total subordination of the powerless group simply because they are not powerless as he shows with slaves. As Blassingame writes of this phenomenon,

From the comparison, it would appear that there is no deterministic relationship between institutional sanctions, roles, and subordinate status and submissiveness...The degree to which the members of institutions are able to avoid becoming abjectly docile is dependent on the kinds of power exercised, the level of surveillance, and the frequency of interaction.[3]

In this sense, slaves exhibited more freedom and autonomy over cultural and personal development away from the planter's control than under it, since these three levels of negotiation were in their favor as plantation labor.

Another unique aspect of Blassingame's interpretation of cultural and personal development of American slaves during the antebellum period is his belief that specifically because of their "community," they were able to offer a staunch form of resistance to slaveholders, even though they were classified as property and of inferior status legally. As Blassingame writes, the community of American slaves was so entrenched and recognizabl

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