Download Death and the American South by Craig Thompson Friend, Lorri Glover PDF

By Craig Thompson Friend, Lorri Glover

This wealthy selection of unique essays illuminates the motives and outcomes of the South's defining reviews with dying. making use of a variety of views, whereas focusing on discrete episodes within the region's earlier, the authors discover themes from the 17th century to the current, from the loss of life traps that emerged in the course of colonization to the bloody backlash opposed to emancipation and civil rights to contemporary canny efforts to commemorate - and capitalize on - the region's lethal earlier. a few authors catch their matters within the so much intimate of moments: killing and death, grieving and remembering, and believing and despairing. Others discover the intentional efforts of Southerners to publicly commemorate their losses via loss of life rituals and memorialization campaigns. jointly, those poignantly informed Southern tales display profound truths in regards to the earlier of a quarter marked through dying and not able, possibly unwilling, to flee the ghosts of its heritage.

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Given the difficulties with which Europeans struggled to establish footholds in the colonial South and Caribbean (and the lingering high mortality rates that accompanied those struggles), any threat to the patriarchal structure of plantations and empire was a threat to social order and security. In 1730, a Virginia slave named James died in custody while awaiting trial for killing his master’s daughter. Probably evidencing the eventual verdict, the judges ordered him quartered and beheaded, with each bodily part displayed (or gibbeted) at locations throughout the county – the typical penalty for high treason against the empire.

Simpson’s concern reminds us that dying in the eighteenth-century South was as much a social and political as a personal and spiritual act. Dying, in short, was enormously complicated. Historians have largely overlooked these multiple dimensions of early modern death, and not without reason. Such concerns are difficult to locate in the traditional sources, which tend to gloss over the messy, tangled politics of dying. Epitaphs and printed funeral sermons, for example, alternately praised the dead and warned the living; rarely if ever did they peek behind the curtain, where neighbors dared speak ill of the dead as they jockeyed for 1 2 Peter N.

Scalpings held particular political symbolism for Europeans, then, drawing on the head as metaphor for authority and the hands as metaphor for action. 22 Moreover, Europeans’ new obsession with hair contributed to the power of the metaphor. The act of scalping not only attacked the head as a site of authority, but also removed the hair as a symbol of European identity, replacing it with marks of savagery. Europeans feared death at the hands of Native Americans, and they also feared captivity because it threatened a social death, replacing their cultural identities with assimilation into Indian culture.

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