Twenty-first Century Narratives of the Plantationocene from the U.S. Gulf Coast

Phillip, Cydney. 2023. Twenty-first Century Narratives of the Plantationocene from the U.S. Gulf Coast. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis intervenes in emergent discussions of the Plantationocene by demonstrating how current conceptualisations of the epoch belie the patterns of aqueously mediated, racialized violence that underpin it. While Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing offer an ontological definition of the Plantationocene, focusing almost exclusively on the exploitation of natural resources, this thesis turns to first-hand community responses to ecological, racialized violence in and surrounding the Gulf Coast of the U.S. South. In doing so, it explores how literary, visual, and sonic modes of vernacular storytelling offer alternative epistemologies of the Plantationocene and expose the ways in which plantation structures of the past and present are indebted to water. The imbrications between water and anti-black violence have long histories that stretch back to the Middle Passage and are manifest in recent crises, from hurricanes to water scarcity. In the wake of ongoing disasters, narratives of the Plantationocene – including the literature, photography and rap music drawn on throughout this thesis – help us to apprehend racialized capitalism and its ecological extension over time. As such, this thesis grapples with the ways in which these varying forms disclose the mnemonic capacities of water, bringing submerged memories to light and prompting us to consider how bodies of water – both human and more-than-human – materially evidence the plantation and its afterlives.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Plantationocene, Anthropocene, Environmental Humanities, eco-criticism, vernacular, memory studies, activism, American South

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 July 2023

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Aug 2023 15:10

Last Modified:

24 Aug 2023 15:10


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