The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town

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9780199860289: The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town

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.

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About the Author:


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 corporate managers. He has published articles on corporate chaplaincy and the American workplace, religion and industrialization, the changing religious landscape of the American South, and the religious politics of U2's Bono.

Review:


"[An] insightful and well-written book. This is local history of the highest order...[Seales] adds significant new dimensions - the spatial and the racial - to the way scholars think about the secular. In so doing he makes a vital contribution not just to the religious history of the American South but also to the study of religion broadly conceived."--Journal of Religion


"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


"Crisply written and theoretically sophisticated, this volume offers a clear and engaging account of southern secularism that is rich in local detail and profound in its insights. Summing up: Essential." --CHOICE


"The stories that Chad Seales has heard and told about Siler City, North Carolina, richly revise our thinking about the sacred, the secular and the South. Secularism there, he argues, did not displace religion, but took place in a spatial mix with religion. This is an analysis of secularism you can walk with your feet, passing still-packed churches. Not least, Seales writes with verve, starting with a fabulous opening line." --Julie Byrne, Monsignor Thomas J. Hartman Chair in Catholic Studies and Associate Professor of Religion, Hofstra University


"Conversations about the American secular have paid comparably little attention to its local articulations. Chad Seales's vibrant, provocative The Secular Spectacle traces the complexities of race, class, and space in a southern secular where 'religious' sameness and difference are produced. Using ethnography, archival work, and nuanced theorization, this important work shows that the complicated exchanges between 'religion' and the secular reside in spectacle and 'visual silence' alike." --Jason Bivins, North Carolina State University


"The Secular Spectacle is a subtle and multi-layered genealogy of the local production of religion and secularity in the U.S South. With lively prose and nimble theorizing, Seales shows how this production is performed and contested through the enactment of public events such as Fourth of July celebrations, parades, and processions, the construction of segregated spaces, and the inculcation of disciplined, racialized bodies." --Manuel A. Vásquez, University of Florida


"The Secular Spectacle requires a reevaluation of the American South. It contributes an alternative approach to secularism within a regional context. By replacing the secularization thesis with an account of how the secular and the religious rely upon one another, Seales dispels simplistic characterizations of the South as bathed in religion." --Marginalia of Los Angeles Review of Books


"Since the 1990s, scholars in a variety of disciplines have sought to complicate, or call into question entirely, the virtually paradigmatic view that religion inevitably declines in importance as societies become more modem. Chad E. Seales's fine work, The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town, is a welcome contribution to this literature... Seales's lively prose makes an intricate story quite accessible, beginning with what is surely one of the best opening lines in academic writing about the region." --Journal of Southern History Review


"Race, in some ways, has been the elephant in the room... in recent considerations of American secularism. Seales addresses that issue head on while giving the developing field of secularism studies an organizing theme and method (race) and broader set of subjects (ordinary people over intellectuals or writers). Forthcoming studies of secularism, especially any tackling other regional contexts, will certainly benefit from Seales's book as an immediate prerequesite." --Church History


"Readers interested in southern history will find value in Seale's careful descriptions of group activities past and present."-- Tom Hanchett, North Carolina Historical Review


"This book provides an original and provocative account of secularism in the American South...a vital contribution not just to the religious history of the American South but also to the study of religion broadly conceived."--The Journal of Religion


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199860289

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