The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 24

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 24

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 24

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 24

Synopsis

There is no denying that race is a critical issue in understanding the South. However, this concluding volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture challenges previous understandings, revealing the region's rich, ever-expanding diversity and providing new explorations of race relations. In 36 thematic and 29 topical essays, contributors examine such subjects as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Japanese American incarceration in the South, relations between African Americans and Native Americans, Chinese men adopting Mexican identities, Latino religious practices, and Vietnamese life in the region. Together the essays paint a nuanced portrait of how concepts of race in the South have influenced its history, art, politics, and culture beyond the familiar binary of black and white.

Excerpt

This volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture presented distinctive planning challenges. Race is a topic that the other 23 volumes in the series treat, some more centrally than others, but it simply cannot be ignored in considerations of the American South. the topics related to race in other volumes provide an ongoing web that connects each volume to a larger southern cultural whole. Each volume has been planned, however, to stand alone in treating a major topic in southern culture, so a separate volume on race was essential. the editors made the decision to include here some articles related to race that have appeared in other volumes. We could not imagine having a volume claiming to treat race in the South without including the excellent article on “Etiquette of Race Relations in the Jim Crow South” that had appeared in the Myth, Manners, and Memory volume, or the article on “Criminal Justice” that had appeared in the Law and Politics volume. “Southern Politics and Race” similarly addressed concerns of this volume, although it originally appeared in an earlier volume.

Beyond that choice, editors commissioned new entries to reflect the Race volume’s concern with the South as a multiracial society. the origin of this volume is the Black Life section of the original Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989), which focused on African American history and culture within a primarily biracial context. Since then, scholars have produced an exciting new literature that positions the South as a society that tried to impose rigid racial boundaries, but one that transcended those attempts, resulting in a dynamic, diverse, and fluid society, all of which is reflected in the articles herein. the authors of these entries take as a given that race is a socially constructed category, and they go on to examine ideas about racial differences within a multiracial context, providing new ways of looking at the South’s racial past and future. As the overview suggests, racial diversity has nurtured the South’s cultural heritage.

Much attention remains focused on African American life, given the demographic and cultural impact of blacks on the South, but the articles collectively show that the black experience looks different at different times and places in the region’s history. Articles on black life range from those on black landowners to advertising stereotypes to African influences. Enduring issues of segregation and desegregation are explored through articles on education, sports, and religion. This volume’s shape came out of interpretive priorities that stressed . . .

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