Cloth: 978-0-226-39154-0 | Paper: 978-0-226-39168-7 | Electronic: 978-0-226-39171-7
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ABOUT THIS BOOK
In Beheading the Saint, Geneviève Zubrzycki studies that transformation through a close investigation of the annual Feast of St. John the Baptist of June 24. The celebrations of that national holiday, she shows, provided a venue for a public contesting of the dominant ethno-Catholic conception of French Canadian identity and, via the violent rejection of Catholic symbols, the articulation of a new, secular Québécois identity. From there, Zubrzycki extends her analysis to the present, looking at the role of Québécois identity in recent debates over immigration, the place of religious symbols in the public sphere, and the politics of cultural heritage—issues that also offer insight on similar debates elsewhere in the world.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1: From French Canada to Québec: An Introduction
[quiet revolution;Quebec;secularization;cultural sociology;materiality studies]
The book’s introduction presents the case and the empirical questions, discusses the theoretical framework and methodology, and specifies the book’s three main objectives: The first is theoretical and aims to interpret the role of religious and secular ideologies and practices in the making of national identity and its transformation. The second objective is empirical: it seeks to highlight the role of symbolic politics in shaping new identities and advancing institutional transformations. The third objective of Beheading the Saint is to provide a methodological blueprint for a visual and material sociology of identity transformation.
2: The Iconic Making of French Canadianness
[Patriots' Rebellions;clerical nationalism;Catholic Church;St John the Baptist;St-Jean-Baptiste]
Chapter 2 discusses the construction of Catholic French Canadian identity in the mid-nineteenth century and its narrative elaboration in the figure of St. John the Baptist. The chapter discusses the broad historical and political contexts in which the ethno-religious vision of French-Canadianness was discursively articulated and analyzes the narrative’s iconic embodiment in the Saint by looking at his representations in popular iconography and performances in nineteenth-century processions and twentieth-century parades. The author explains why and how that specific vision of national identity flourished, becoming the dominant version of national identity from the mid-nineteenth century until the Quiet Revolution.
3: Iconoclastic Unmaking: The Quiet Revolution’s Aesthetic Revolt (1959–69)
[Quiet Revolution;Québécois nationalism;St-Jean-Baptiste Parades;protests;aesthetic revolt]
Chapter 3 analyzes debates about the traditional representation of the Saint and the parades in his honor. As the site of performance and subversion of an established national narrative embodied in the saint, parades providing the stage for the spectacular articulation of new secular national identity in the 1960s. Because St. John the Baptist embodied the dominant national vision, and the celebrations on his name day pictorially narrated that vision in elaborate allegorical floats and tableaux vivants moving through public space, the saint became the object of protests through which social actors and political contenders performed and ultimately transformed their national identity in the 1960s. The vehicle of these protests was the parade itself. The material form of the saint and of his core attributes fomented a debate about national identity and religion in the public sphere, and the altering of the physical aspect of the icon—its iconoclastic unmaking through what I call an aesthetic revolt—was a turning point in the articulation of a new, secular national identity in Québec.
4: Iconographic Remaking and the Politics of Identity: The Ambiguous Reinvention of the Fête
[fête nationale;national sovereignty;referendum;Meech Lake Accord]
Chapter 4 tackles the aftermath of the dramatic end to the parade and the institutionalization of the new Québécois identity, still very much a work in progress. Drawing on a range of archival sources as well as on participant observation, the chapter examines the making of that new identity through a reconfiguration of the St-Jean-Baptiste holiday as la Fête nationale, a religio-secular hybrid. It also considers the impact of the 1980 and 1995 referenda as well as the failed Meech Accord of 1989.
5: Nationalism, Secularism, and Cultural Heritage
[nationalism;secularism;cultural heritage;reasonable accommodations;Charter of Values;crucifix]
In chapter 5 the author turns her attention to the relationship between religious symbols, cultural patrimony, and secularism in an analysis of the debates over “reasonable accommodation” and the Charter of Values/Charter of Secularism proposed in 2013, finding trances of the ghostly presence of Catholicism in Québec society.
6: Conclusion: Toward a Cultural Sociology of Identity Transformation
The final chapter of the book summarizes the arguments and discusses the findings.