Performing Place: Race and Gender in Contemporary Southern U.S. Commemoration
Hopkins, Chandra Owenby
University of Kansas
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"Performing Place: Race and Gender in Contemporary Southern U.S. Commemoration" examines three commemorative events held in the southern U.S. for the ways in which participants enact desired racialized and gendered identities at each annual commemoration. Three cultural groups and their commemorative events form the case studies that comprise this dissertation and include: the white women's heritage group, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the "Confederate Memorial Day;" the Native American tribe, the Cherokee and "Frontier Day;" and the African American coastal community of the Gullah-Geechee and the "Sea Islands Festival." Drawing on participant observation, interviews, published plays, and journals, this comparative study remaps the relationship between the ways in which peoples of "the south" have been staged in American popular culture and how they stage themselves through contemporary commemoration. Each event is imbued with ideas of memory, identity, and heritage for event participants. Memory, identity, and heritage are tied to notions of landscape and place and are therefore examined respectively in chapters two, three, and four for the ways in which they are central to the place-based identity construction participants engage in during each commemorative event. The chapters in this dissertation are each structured to include a history of the cultural group, a history of both the physical site of the event (the land) and the symbolic location of the event (the place), and finally an analysis of the public event itself. This comparative study contributes to the fields of theatre and performance studies, southern studies, African American studies, Native American studies, cultural geography, and American studies.
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