The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town

Hardcover | December 27, 2013

byChad E. Seales

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The manufacturing town of Siler City, North Carolina, was transformed by the arrival of Latino migrants in the 1990s. Using ethnographic and archival sources, Chad E. Seales argues that white Protestants in Siler ritually engaged material cultures of racial segregation and southernindustrialization that had been forged in the early twentieth century in order to reclaim public space following the arrival of Latino Catholics. Seales offers a new approach to the study of material religion by considering not just how Protestants use material objects within the bounds ofrecognizable Christian practice, but also how they use those morally charged material objects to maintain religious order in secular life.In 1901, for example, Confederate Colonel John Randolph Lane led the inaugural Fourth of July parade in downtown Siler City. For southern whites, his bodily performance represented the real presence of Confederate sacrifice for Christian homes. Across the twentieth century, white Protestantspublically displayed the moral order embodied by Lane, an order predicated on the racialization of the town's inhabitants, in the annual rites surrounding the Fourth of July parade. At the end of the twentieth century, they renewed the downtown parade in response to Latino Catholics, who haddemonstrated their public presence through the ritual performance of the crucifixion of Jesus in a Good Friday procession. Using the contrast between parades and processions, along with other examples, Seales argues that southern whites cultivated their own regional brand of American secularism and used it to claim and regulate public spaces

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The manufacturing town of Siler City, North Carolina, was transformed by the arrival of Latino migrants in the 1990s. Using ethnographic and archival sources, Chad E. Seales argues that white Protestants in Siler ritually engaged material cultures of racial segregation and southernindustrialization that had been forged in the early twe...

Chad E. Seales teaches in the Religious Studies department at the University of Texas at Austin. His research addresses the relationship between religion and culture in American life, as evident in the social expressions of Southern evangelicals, the popular religious practices of Latino migrants, and the moral prescriptions of corpora...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:December 27, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199860289

ISBN - 13:9780199860289

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Secularism1. Industry2. Nationalism3. Civility4. Privatization5. MigrationPostscript: SilenceNotesIndex