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AfriGeneas States Research Forum

[AL] Ethnic Diversity within Southern Regionalism

Southern Heritage on Display: Public Ritual and
Ethnic Diversity within Southern Regionalism_
Edited by Celeste Ray

The University of Alabama Press is pleased to
announce the publication of Southern Heritage on
Display: Public Ritual and Ethnic Diversity within
Southern Regionalism, edited by Celeste Ray. This
provocative collection draws on extensive
ethnographic fieldwork to shed light on the role
that public ceremonies play in affirming or
debunking cultural identities associated with the
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 song cycle as a means of expressing
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. Charles Reagan Wilson, author of
Judgment and Grace in Dixie and Director of the
Center for the Study of Southern Culture, writes,
"An important contribution to scholarship. . . .
One of the freshest and most stimulating
interpretations I have recently seen of the
American South."

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.

Celeste Ray is Assistant Professor of Anthropology
at the University of the South, Sewanee,
Tennessee, and author of Highland Heritage:
Scottish Americans in the American South.

Southern Heritage on Display
280 pages, 20 illustrations 6 x 9
ISBN 0-8173-1227-7
$49.95s cloth
Publication Date: March 21, 2003

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[AL] Ethnic Diversity within Southern Regionalism

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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