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Sweeping the yard or earth around living quarters is a traditional practice in West and Central Africa and on southern plantations and farms in North America. Yard sweeping ensures cleanliness for the living and the ancestors buried there, and cleanses the compound of evil spirits while helpful ones remain close. Sweeping provides sweepers a sense of security and affords them a measure of control over their environment.

Yards and Garden Spaces

The yard, as defined by Barbara J. Heath and Amber Bennett, is “an area of land, bounded and usually enclosed, which immediately surrounds a domestic structure and is considered an extension of that dwelling” (2000, p. 38). Garden spaces, where vegetables, cotton, shrubbery, and flowers are grown, are also included in the ...

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