Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction

By Euan Hague; Edward H. Sebesta et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Neo-Confederacy, Culture, and Ethnicity:
A White Anglo-Celtic Southern People

EUAN HAGUE and EDWARD H. SEBESTA

The concept of ethnicity has been central to social theory for the past thirty or forty years, a period during which global events have changed the ways in which people identify themselves.1 Processes of decolonization, international migration, economic globalization, and the break-up of the Soviet Bloc have destabilized long-established relationships of political and cultural authority, and, Thomas Hylland Eriksen proposes, these developments continue to provoke both violent and nonviolent "ethnic struggles for recognition, power and autonomy."2 One central aspect of these reevaluations of ethnicity is the understanding that personal identities are multiple, being constructed and deconstructed in different contexts, enabling people to choose identities to suit their needs. For example, Simon James demonstrates that in Western society, despite the fact that "ethnicities are widely perceived as being 'in the blood'" and "ingrained from birth," they are in reality often selected by people from a multiplicity of possibilities based on differing circumstances.3 Although this flexibility of ethnicity allows a person to choose to invoke their ethnic identity as, when, and how it is needed, in the United States, as elsewhere, a great deal of determination is still ascribed to one's ethnic identity, as Werner Sollors argues: "Americans are willing to perceive ethnic distinctions—diferentiations which they seemingly base exclusively on descent, no matter how far removed and how artificially selected and constructed—as powerful and crucial."4

It is within this context that in 1995, neo-Confederate Franklin Sanders told Southern Patriot readers that they, like other ethnic nationalists, could pursue secession and gain independence from the United States.5 In addition, as we explore in Chapter 5, this late-twentieth-century period also saw changing race relations in the Southern states stemming from the civil rights movement and new geographical patterns of immigration, elements that we

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