Plantations are not only sites of industrial agricultural production but also places of new thinking. The study of the historical spread of the plantation complex provides insight into both the rise of new globally circulating concepts andalso, more fundamentally, into the underlying conditions for the rise of these concepts. Paradoxically, the global proliferation and transformation of plantation societies generated a metaphorical substructure that conditioned how disparate social groups, in contradictory and contested ways, imagined new meanings of freedom. Exploring the historical metaphorics of the plantation complex contributes to global intellectual history. This essay reenvisions the plantation complex as central to modernity's epistemology—to the critical reflection on the parameters of knowledge in modern times, and how they emerged and morphed in relation to the forces of history.