Processional Mobility and Celebratory Culture in Black North Carolina, 1865-1945 Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Gaddis, Elijah
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of American Studies
  • In the three-quarters of a century following Emancipation, Black people moved to southern cities in search of commonality, community, and pleasure. This dissertation examines that movement through the lens of emergent celebratory public cultures. Seeking the intersections of pleasure and mobility, I focus on the experience of Black Southerners in celebratory procession. Understanding these performances as an index of affective experience in the transforming places of the New South, I argue that we can see the emergence of a New Black South in the urban spaces of a region being transformed by intraregional migration. These ambulatory landscapes functioned as roving centers of African American social and cultural life and established claims to public, civic, and domestic space, even as the South moved toward a re-institutionalization of white supremacist governance. In this dissertation, I focus on three performative celebrations in three North Carolina cities: Emancipation Day celebrations, the masked processional holiday celebration of Jonkonnu, and the tobacco warehouse dance called the June German. My insights on these cultural institutions are informed by a broad and interdisciplinary archival study. This methodology has meant the use of a variety of sources and approaches--newspaper articles, advertisements, maps, architectural plans, cultural landscapes, oral history interviews, data visualizations--all intended to help recreate worlds of experience that remain on the margins of conventional historical study. Structured around these three central manifestations of Black public culture, this study concludes with my examination of each of these forms of celebration in a contemporary context. This consideration of Black pleasure and celebration in our current landscapes suggests both the transtemporal centrality of movement and urban space, and its continued importance in public memory and history.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Clegg, Claude
  • Holland, Sharon
  • Kotch, Seth
  • Brundage, W. Fitzhugh
  • Sawin, Patricia
  • Herman, Bernard
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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