In the United States, the word plantation almost always conjures up images of Southern slave plantations (sorry, Rhode Island). Is a similarly-negative context associated with the word in other English-speaking countries or places? I know it is sometimes used in writings about Vietnam, does it have a negative history there as well?

  • 6
    Ah, who says plantation "almost always" refers to the antebellum South in the U.S.? I do if we're talking about 19th century history, of course. But if later, I associate it with vast stands of palm oil and rubber trees in Asia; if earlier, the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. And if even earlier, the Irish Plantations. – choster Feb 8 '15 at 17:02
  • 2
    OED: plantation In extended use (chiefly in African-American usage): any institution regarded as exploitative or paternalistic, esp. in fostering an environment of inequality and servitude reminiscent of slavery. Their first citation in this sense is from Lady Sings The Blues, 1956 – FumbleFingers Feb 8 '15 at 17:16
  • 5
    There is very little doubt that plantation is sullied by the connotations of slavery, but it is an over-statement to say that it almost always conjures up images of Southern slave plantations. We can safely say that a person's or group's geographic, social, historical or emotional connection to Southern plantation slavery will determine the strength of the connotations. – ScotM Feb 8 '15 at 18:33
  • Is this really a question about negative connotations of plantation in Vietnam? – Robusto Feb 8 '15 at 18:41
  • 2
    There are at least 85,000 people who I think would be somewhat uneasy at hearing of this “almost always” conjuring-up of slavery images … – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 8 '15 at 19:33

In Britain and, I suspect, The Commonwealth more widely, along with a present -- but less prominent -- association with the antebellum South, the word reminds the reader of the British Empire which, -- being an Empire -- had its own arrogant excesses.

However, in Britain at least the word plantation is widely used -- apparently neutrally -- to describe, for example, tea, coffee, banana, and rubber farms planted in tropical places: after all, it accurately describes them.

However, you are increasingly likely to hear the word "farm" used in its place (for example in advertisements), I suspect for this reason.

Evaluation of the moral legacy of the British Empire and American slavery is incredibly important, but is an issue which is not really on-topic here.

However, if your context is such that your text must be sensitive to issues of colonialism or slavery, I suspect you cannot wield the word plantation carelessly anywhere in the English-speaking world.

| improve this answer | |

as far as I know the word plantation does not in other English speaking countries besides UK such as Kenya, India and Sri Lanka conjures up images of Southern slave plantations as well in other countries were English is widely spoken.




| improve this answer | |

In present-day Britain, for whom the Empire is long gone, plantation is an odd word as it might conjure up the image of the Forestry Commission planting sugar-cane or some similar tropical or semi-tropical vegetation.

That is, where the word is used nowadays, it's generally intended entirely neutrally, to mean something that is systematically planted; but it's often understood to carry the baggage to which the question refers — in present-day Britain, the sugar plantations of the British colonies in the West Indies previously maintained by slave labour. Those who have that immediate impression are unlikely to use the word, thus restricting its appearance to technical uses.

PAWS are ancient woodland sites where the semi-natural woodland has been replaced with a plantation.

The sub-set of most relevance are those sites planted with non-native species since 1930. A substantial proportion of PAWS are either under restoration or likely to be restored over the next 20-30 years.

Forestry Commission

PAWS appears to stand for planted Ancient Woodland sites. The Forestry Commission is a nationally-funded body responsible for maintaining woodland in Great Britain.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.