From Plantation to Playground: the Complex Transformation of the Sugar Plantation Monjope
Author(s): Catherine LaVoy
In 1963, the sugar plantation Monjope in Pernambuco, Brazil was transformed into a camping club. Canals that had once fed the mill became swimming pools, tours went through the master’s house, and the slave quarters that once held over 100 enslaved laborers became toilets and showers. This transformation is not just the story of changes in the built environment. Gilberto Freyre made the image of the Pernambucan sugar plantation political, proclaiming it the nexus of Brazilian culture and evidence of the racial equality of Brazil, an idea endorsed by Brazil’s government during the mid-20th century. At the same time, Pernambuco was the center of the largest strike of Brazilian plantation workers ever in 1962, placing the modern sugar plantation in the center of a larger movement for workers’ rights. In this context, children swam and played chess on the lawn of the Monjope. This paper will look at the changing landscape of the sugar plantation in Brazil as evidenced though popular culture, historical documents and the archaeology of Monjope to better understand the complex webs of historic, political and economic relations that formed this landscape.
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From Plantation to Playground: the Complex Transformation of the Sugar Plantation Monjope. Catherine LaVoy. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437300)