cover of book

Southern Heritage on Display: Public Ritual and Ethnic Diversity within Southern Regionalism
edited by Celeste Ray
contributions by Laura Ehrisman, Steven Hoelscher, Clyde Ellis, Melissa Schrift, Celeste Ray, Helen Regis, Kathryn VanSpanckeren, Gwen Kennedy Neville, Susan Emley Keefe, Paul Monaghan and Joan Flocks
University of Alabama Press, 2002
Paper: 978-0-8173-5286-8 | eISBN: 978-0-8173-8225-4 | Cloth: 978-0-8173-1227-5
Library of Congress Classification F216.2.S617 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 975.043

How ritualized public ceremonies affirm or challenge cultural identities associated with the American South

W. J. Cash's 1941 observation that “there are many Souths and many cultural traditions among them” is certainly validated by this book. Although the Civil War and its “lost cause” tradition continues to serve as a cultural root paradigm in celebrations, both uniting and dividing loyalties, southerners also embrace a panoply of public rituals—parades, cook-offs, kinship homecomings, church assemblies, music spectacles, and material culture exhibitions—that affirm other identities. From the Appalachian uplands to the Mississippi Delta, from Kentucky bluegrass to Carolina piedmont, southerners celebrate in festivals that showcase their diverse cultural backgrounds and their mythic beliefs about themselves.
The ten essays of this cohesive, interdisciplinary collection present event-centered research from various fields of study—anthropology, geography, history, and literature—to establish a rich, complex picture of the stereotypically “Solid South.” Topics include the Mardi Gras Indian song cycle as a means of expressing African-American identity in New Orleans; powwow performances and Native American traditions in southeast North Carolina; religious healings in southern Appalachian communities; Mexican Independence Day festivals in central Florida; and, in eastern Tennessee, bonding ceremonies of melungeons who share Indian, Scots Irish, Mediterranean, and African ancestry. Seen together, these public heritage displays reveal a rich “creole” of cultures that have always been a part of southern life and that continue to affirm a flourishing regionalism.
This book will be valuable to students and scholars of cultural anthropology, American studies, and southern history; academic and public libraries; and general readers interested in the American South. It contributes a vibrant, colorful layer of understanding to the continuously emerging picture of complexity in this region historically depicted by simple stereotypes.

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