BECOMING GOOD: THE SPIRITUALITIES, INTIMATE IDENTITIES, AND COLLECTIVE IDENTITY OF SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVISTS IN NORTH CAROLINA’S MORAL MOVEMENT Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
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  • Conder, Timothy
    • Affiliation: School of Education
Abstract
  • ABSTRACT Timothy Donald Conder: Becoming Good: The Spiritualities, Intimate Identities, and Collective Identity of Social Justice Activists in North Carolina’s Moral Movement (Under the direction of George W. Noblit) The NAACP-convened "Forward Together" Moral Movement exploded into national consciousness in the Spring 2013 with a series of weekly "Moral Monday" protests at North Carolina's State Legislature. What began with the civil disobedience of seventeen faith leaders and activists has become a growing non-partisan, theo-political social movement. The Moral Movement demands the attention of social justice researchers for its deployment of a theo-moral logic of justice work and its construction of an intersectional, multi-faith, “big tent” constituency that intentionally performs a liberative and prophetic mode of Black Christianity. The diversity of the movement in logic and following provokes many questions regarding the role of spiritualities and religious ideology in public pedagogy and social justice activism. Notably, Protestant Christianity has historically positioned itself in opposition to critical, liberative social theories and the work of social justice (Kruse, 2015; Marsden, 1980; Milbank, 1990). The sharp contrast between the theo-moral politics of the Moral Movement and the social justice aversion of particularly White U.S. Protestantism demonstrates what ethnographer Siobhán Garrigan (2010) described in her study of peacemaking, "Christian worship [rituals] walk a line between peace-making and evil-tending every time they are performed" (p. 31). Noted critical theorists such as Cornel West (1999), Antonio Gramsci (1935/2000), and Louis Althusser (1971) have warned that theorists and activists ignore this double possibility in religion at the peril of seriously impairing the work of justice. iii This heart of this post-critical ethnography (Noblit et al., 2004) of the Moral Movement is the narrative life study (Maynes et al., 2008) of nine individuals in the movement. These nine represent significantly divergent positionalities, a variety of locations in Protestant Christian faith traditions, and a multiplicity of roles in the movement. Their life stories demonstrate meaningful pathways in contesting, negotiating, or deploying Christian faith heritages in the construction of activist identities. The study of the movement through a lens of ethnogenesis (Price, 2009) illustrates the potential stirrings of an evolving new people with a collective identity of justice activism.
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Advisor
  • Noblit, George W.
  • Davis, Cassandra
  • Trier, James
  • Price, Charles
  • Bolick, Cheryl
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018
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