. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York:
In his seminal piece
on slave culture and formation of African American identity, Genovese argues
that slaves as “an objective social class” formed a separate cultural and social
identity despite the oppressive structures of US American slavery. However,
slave culture influenced white culture and was reciprocally influenced by it,
too. The work’s dominating analytical framework is the concept of paternalistic
hegemony, a system, thus, in which slaves and masters did not face each other
in absolute terms, but in which there was much room for negotiation. However,
Genovese, partly because of his strong Marxist rhetoric, fails to account for
a mental complexity of slaves that goes beyond a simple paternalistic structure.
Looking at Roll, Jordan, Roll as an analysis of Southern plantations
as cultural landscapes, Genovese’s missing focus on the oppressive nature of
the slave system in ante-bellum South leaves out crucial aspects of power relations.