The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town
Published Date:5th December 2013
Dimensions:155 X 236 X 25 mm
Using ethnographic and archival sources, Chad E. Seales argues in The Secular Spectacle that white Protestants in Siler ritually engaged material cultures of racial segregation and southern industrialization that had been forged in the early twentieth century in order to reclaim public space following the arrival of Latino Catholics.
Tracing the religious history of Siler City, North Carolina, Chad E. Seales argues that southern whites cultivated their own regional brand of American secularism and employed it, alongside public religious performances, to claim and regulate public spaces. Over the course of the twentieth century, they wielded secularism to segregate racialized bodies, to challenge local changes resulting from civil rights legislation, and to respond to the arrival of Latino migrants. Combining ethnographic and archival sources, Seales studies the themes of industrialization, nationalism, civility, privatization, and migration through the local history of Siler City; its neighborhood patterns, Fourth of July parades, Confederate soldiers, minstrel shows, mock weddings, banking practices, police shootings, Good Friday processions, public protests, and downtown mural displays. Offering a spatial approach to the study of performative religion, The Secular Spectacle presents a generative narrative of secularism from the perspective of evangelical Protestants in the American South.
A vivid and lively narrative...This excellent book will be of interest to scholars of southern migration, religion, and the formation of the secular...The Secular Spectacle is a welcome addition to the scholarship on secularism, and Seales offers deeper reflection and analysis of its particularities in the South. * Journal of Southern Religion *