AUP student taking a photo of the Seine during Orientation.


"Forging a New South Empire: The Consequences of the Plantation Model of Development,": A Talk by Professor Jeannie Whayne

Monday, March 21, 2016 - 18:30

Professor Jeannie Whayne of the University of Arkansas will give a talk entitled, "Forging a New South Empire: The Consequences of the Plantation Model of Development."

This lecture will examine the implications of the plantation model of development by focusing on one planter in the environmentally challenging Lower Mississippi River Valley in the post-Civil War era.  Wilson’s plantation empire began under the auspices of his father in 1848 and remained in the hands of the Wilson family until 2010 when it was sold to a wealthy Financier. It passed through various stages of plantation organization: (1) the antebellum plantation that relied on slave labor; (2) the post-Civil War plantation that relied on impoverished sharecroppers; (3) the post-World War II neo-plantation that reduced its labor needs dramatically by means of mechanization; and (4) the portfolio plantation of the twenty-first century that maximizes profits for the sake of investors.  Throughout all these versions of the system, three things remained constant: the concentration of wealth in a few hands to the detriment of the larger community; the exploitation and impoverishment of labor; and the manipulation of the environment.  It concludes with a few thoughts about the new “portfolio” model of plantation that is emerging around the world in the 21st century.  

Jeannie Whayne (Ph.D University of California, San Diego, 1989) is University Professor of History at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a specialist is agricultural, Arkansas, and southern history.  Her research focuses on the lower Mississippi River Valley and the interplay of social and economic history with environmental change, agricultural development, and race relations. Her most recent book, Delta Empire: Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Agricultural in the New South, explored the transformation of the plantation system in the twentieth century South, concluding with some observations about the emergence of portfolio plantations in the early 21st century.  She is past-president of the Agricultural History Society and is currently a member of the executive board of the Southern Historical Association and a distinguished lecturer with the Organization of American Historians.